In a recent report based on a study done at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, doctors found that women who walked at a brisk pace three or four hours per week reduced their risk of a heart attack by 30 to 40 percent; those who walked at least five hours per week reduced their risk by 50%.
They went on to state that one-third of coronary events in middle-aged women are due to physical inactivity. Walking can reduce your risk of a heart attack by…
1) Lowering Your Blood Pressure
One of the causes of a heart attack can be high blood pressure – known as hypertension. This “silent killer” causes your heart to work extra hard to pump blood throughout your body. Walking, along with eating properly, losing weight, stopping smoking and restricting your salt intake, has shown to decrease high blood pressure and therefore decrease your risk of a heart attack.
2) Reducing Stress
Walking reduces the amount of stress hormones released in our body. An overabundance of stress hormones elevates your blood pressure. However, by exercising, your mind focuses less on what is causing you stress and more on the repetitiveness of doing the exercise. With less stress hormones in your system, your blood pressure lowers itself.
3) Reducing Cholesterol
The higher your cholesterol level – a ratio of HDL, LDL and triglycerides (another fat in your bloodstream) – the greater chance you’ll have a heart attack. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that when found in excess, can build-up on the walls of your arteries and cause, at the very least a narrowing, or worse a blockage.
With a narrowing, your heart will not get as much oxygen as it needs and you will get chest pains. If one of your arteries becomes blocked, you suffer a heart attack. By walking, you can naturally raise your good HDL and reduce your bad LDL cholesterol thus lowering your overall cholesterol level.
4) Stabilizing Your Blood Sugar Level
When you eat foods high in sugar, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream to break down the sugar. But in many people, the insulin response is too great, thus processing too much sugar. Your body responds in the form of a craving for sugar so you eat something sweet … and the yo-yo cycle continues.
Why this is bad is that over time, your body becomes what is known as insulin resistant. In other words it takes more insulin than your body is capable of creating to break down sugar. The result – Type 2 diabetes and generally an associated weight gain.
As your body becomes insulin resistant, a thickening of your arteries starts to happen with symptoms and results similar to high cholesterol. Walking takes energy and that energy comes from your blood sugar. With less excessive blood sugar to control, insulin can do its work effectively thus preventing insulin resistance.
A Quick Note on Eating Properly
All the walking in the world will not reduce your risk of a heart attack unless you also eat properly. Many of the above symptoms are linked to not eating right. By eating foods low in salt, sugar and saturated fat, along with regular walking, you can significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack.
If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free MyFitnessNut.com Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.