Brisk Walking vs Vigorous Exercise ... Equal in Preventing Heart Disease!

Exercise has been shown in a number of studies to provide some protection against heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise such as swimming, cycling and many other aerobic fitness methods can have benefits beyond the cardiovascular system. Routine exercise strengthens and tones muscles, increases the flexibility of joints, and clearly reduces bone thinning (osteoporosis). This enhanced fitness reduces the risk of falling and breaking bones. Regular exercise can also promote socialization and a general sense of well being.

Controversy over Walking

However, the effectiveness of walking as compared with more vigorous exercise in preventing coronary heart disease has remained controversial. In a study published in the August 26, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of investigators compared brisk walking with more vigorous exercise in the prevention of heart disease. Their results would appear to settle the issue.

The research team led by JoAnn Manson of the Channing Laboratory at Harvard Medical School based their findings on the Nurses' Health Study. This is an extraordinarily large, prospective (forward- looking) study. It was started in 1976 when 121,700 female registered nurses 30 to 55 years old completed a mailed questionnaire on their medical history and lifestyle. Every two years, follow-up questionnaires were sent to these nurses to obtain updated information on potential risk factors and to identify newly diagnosed cases of coronary heart disease or other illnesses.