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Study hails walking - March-16-13

Study hails walking

A brisk 30-minute walk six days a week is enough to trim waistlines and cut the risk of metabolic syndrome — an increasingly common condition that is linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, a new study indicates.

It’s estimated that about one quarter of all US adults have metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors that raise the odds of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a person must have at least three of these five risk factors — a large waistline, high blood pressure, high levels of harmful triglycerides, low levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and high blood sugar — and according to many studies, a growing number of people have these problems.

The new findings stem from the STRRIDE study — an acronym for Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise — in which investigators examined the effects of varying amounts and intensity of exercise on 171 middle-aged, overweight men and women.

Before exercising regularly, 41 percent of the study subjects met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. At the end of the 8-month exercise program, only 27 percent did.

“That’s a significant decline in prevalence,” said Johnson. “It’s also encouraging news for sedentary, middle-aged adults who want to improve their health. It means they don’t have to go out running 4 or 5 days a week; they can get significant health benefits by simply walking around the neighborhood after dinner every night.”

People in the study who exercised the least - walking 30 minutes 6 days a week or the equivalent of about 11 miles per week — gained significant benefit, while those who exercised the most, jogging about 17 miles per week, gained slightly more benefit in terms of lowered metabolic syndrome scores.

People who did a short period of very vigorous exercise didn’t improve their metabolic syndrome scores as much as those who performed less intense exercise for a longer period, the researchers found. This suggests, they say, that there’s more value in doing moderate intensity exercise every day rather than more intense activity just a few days a week.

All of the exercisers lost inches around their waistline over the 8-month study period, whereas the inactive control group gained an average of about one pound and a half-inch around the waist. “That may not sound like much, but that’s just 6 months. Over a decade, that’s an additional 20 pounds and 10 inches at the belt line,” noted Duke cardiologist Dr William E Kraus, the study’s principal investigator. reuters

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