Brisk Walk To Live Longer
Brisk walking is a fitness exercise, but what does it mean when someone cannot walk briskly? A recent study published in the European Heart Journal found that the walking speed of middle-aged individuals could act as a predictor for risk of heart disease.
The study also found that those who walked slowly showed a twofold increase in cardiovascular mortality when compared to those who regularly did brisk walking. In fact, specialists recommend heart patients to walk regularly to reduce the risk of heart attacks. Hence, it can be taken as an indicator of heart health depending on various other co-morbid factors like diabetes, thyroid and other conditions in the body. Dr Sunil Kapoor, senior consultant cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals, explains further.
What is the link between walking and heart disease?
Walking for 30 minutes every day five times a week is recommended to patients to reduce the risk of heart attacks by 50 per cent. Brisk walking is recommended as it is a full body exercise where all the muscles are activated. It helps to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and high sugar levels in the blood. A reasonable brisk walk on a soft surface is required as walking on a hard ground may strain the ankle and knee.
The study indicates that men and women who walk slowly are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Please explain how
Slow walking is not enough exercise for the body. Walking slowly is an indication of poor cardiovascular health. To benefit from walking, one needs to walk at a speed of more than five kilometres per hour where the heart rate can go up to around 110 to 120 per minute. There has to be reasonable sweating. But before doing this, it is recommended that young and old patients take a fitness test with their doctor. Brisk walking is done by those who are focused on their walking and they are the ones who are able to achieve the best results.
Walking pace is also linked to a healthy and unhealthy BMI. How is this explained scientifically?
People who are obese cannot walk fast as they are prone to diabetes, high cholesterol levels and increased risk of death due to heart attack. They also suffer from sleep apnea which is an independent risk factor. Hence, this category of people cannot be put on the regime of brisk walking. They have to control their diet to lose weight and most of them are slow walkers.
At the clinical level, is it possible to diagnose heart problems by one’s walking pace? Can the fitness ratio and mortality risk be assessed through this method, if so, how?
The treadmill test is the one walking test used worldwide to detect early heart diseases. This has proven to give accurate results so far and has been used clinically as the best indicator of heart health.
What is cardiorespiratory fitness?
Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen during sustained physical activity. To test this, people often wear gadgets during their brisk walking session to measure the heart rate. This gives an indication of one’s heart health at that particular point of time. Apart from that, stress thallium tests and echo tests are also carried out to measure the heart rate and the manner in which blood is pumped into the heart.
Heart diseases are caused due to various factors. Have these new non-invasive techniques, used to evaluate heart health, been scientifically evaluated?
For good heart health, the rule of 100 is recommended:
- Keep blood sugar around 100
- LDL Cholesterol at 100
- Systolic blood pressure around 100
- Walk 100 kilometres per month
- If all these 100 parameters are maintained, the chances of living up to 100 are increased.
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