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The Best Walking Speed for Your Heart

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Like to walk? Try picking up the pace—just a little. Your heart will thank you.

In an analysis of 40,000 women (average age 55), among those who walked in their leisure time, about 80% of them—the brisk walkers—were 23% less likely to develop heart failure over the next 17 years than women who simply strolled. The researchers believe that similar benefits would happen in men of the same age.

The pace difference? At least one extra mile per hour. The slowest walkers in the study averaged two or fewer miles per hour—a stroll. The fastest ones? A brisker three or more miles an hour—which is a good pace to aim for.

If you walk on a treadmill, it’s easy to pick the best pace for an optimal heart-healthy workout. If you like to walk outside—walking your dog, heading out for errands, a hike before breakfast—you might be able to use your smartphone to check how long it takes to you to walk one mile so you can figure out your walking speed. If your regular pace is just a leisurely stroll, practice picking up the pace.

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Source: Study titled “Usual Walking Pace Is More Strongly Associated with Lower Risk of Heart Failure Than Total Physical Activity in the Women’s Health Study,” Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention and Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2016 Scientific Sessions. Date: March 21, 2016 Publication: Health Insider