Walking Helps Protect Health, Vitality of Middle-Age Women

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Need a good reason to start walking as a regular method of getting daily activity? How about three! Just by tying on a pair of walking shoes most days of the week, you may lower your risk of stroke, slow the age-related changes in your body, and predict your longevity.

    Walking and Lower Stroke Risk

    A new study out of Spain followed 19, 416 women and 13,576 men who were between the ages of 29-69 years of age who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort that was recruited between 1992 and 1996. Most of these participants were blood donors who were more often in good health since they were able to give blood.  

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    This longitudinal study included regular follow-up meetings between study participants and the researchers over a period of approximately 12 years. The researchers used a questionnaire to assess participants’ physical activity as well as the number of hours each week that participants were active.  The researchers also had data on the participants’ diet, lifestyle habits and medical history. The researchers divided participants into groups that were classified by gender, type of physical activity performed as well as the total amount of time that was spent exercising each week.

    The researchers learned that there were 120 transient ischemic attacks as well as 442 stroke cases during the follow-up period. Interestingly, recreational activity seemed to safeguard the female participants from the risk of cardiovascular disease but not the male participants. Furthermore, the researchers’ analysis found that female participants who walked for more than 3.5 hours per week had a lower risk of stroke than those who didn’t engage in regular walking. However, the researchers did not find significant association between other leisure time activities and vigorous physical activity with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in either men or women.

    Walking and Age-Related Physical Changes

    It’s also important to realize that walking actually helps minimize age-related changes in the ability to get around easily as we age. In a 2012 study out of Stanford University, researchers tried to determine differences in the mechanics of walking between who were younger than 40. Of this group, a highly active population who were older than 50 years old and a group who were younger than 40 years of age. The older group included 79 participants who were between the ages of 50-64 years of age and 54 participants between 65 and 80 years of age. This older group walked more than 7,500 steps a day based on a seven-day activity monitoring history.

    The Stanford researchers found that middle-aged and older adults had less foot, ankle, leg and hip flexibility when they walked than their younger counterparts. However, the researchers found that  a high volume of walking by middle-age and older participants helped minimize the  amount of age-related changes on their feet, legs, ankles and hips as compared to older adults who were inactive.

  • Walking and Predictions of Longevity

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    And a 2011 Scientific American story pointed to research that suggest that walking speed studies of older people can be used to predict life expectancy. Researchers consider walking speed to be a useful way to determine a person’s vitality. Walking speed is especially useful when analyzing older adults who still live independently as well as those who are older than 75 years of age.

    In this research, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed nine cohort studies involving 34,485 adults who lived in communities and who were 65 years of age and older. Their analysis found that participants who had a walking speed of one meter per second or faster had longer survival than would be determined by age and gender alone.

    All of these three studies are a good reason to add walking to your daily schedule. It’s fast, it’s easy – and it’s a great way to maintain your health as you age!

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    Boyer, K. A., et al. (2012). The role of physical activity in changes in walking mechanics with age. PubMed.gov.

    Harmon, K. (2011). Walking speed predicts life expectancy of older adults. Scientific American.

    Huerta, J. M., et al. (2013). Physical activity and risk of cerebrovascular disease in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition- Spain Study. Stroke.

    Raven, K. (2013). Walking linked to fewer strokes in women. MedlinePlus.

Published On: January 07, 2013