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Walking to health
Hundreds of medical studies show that regular exercise is good for health — very good, in fact. But many of these studies lump various forms of exercise together to investigate how the total amount of physical activity influences health. It’s important research, but it doesn’t necessarily prove that walking, in and of itself, is beneficial.
More than 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates said, “Walking is a man’s best medicine.” To find out if he was right, two scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of research published between 1970 and 2007 in peer-reviewed English-language journals. The meta-analysis makes a strong case for walking. In all, walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%, and it cut the risk of dying during the study period by 32%. These benefits were equally robust in men and women. Protection was evident even at distances of just 5½ miles per week and at a pace as casual as about 2 miles per hour. The people who walked longer distances, walked at a faster pace, or both enjoyed the greatest protection.*
*Originally published: August 2009