Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big advocate of walking, and have attempted to highlight the evidence which suggests that this most natural and relatively gentle form of exercise can bring significant benefits for health. I was therefore interested this week to read about the results of a study from Japan in which individuals were enrolled into a home-based walking programme, to see what, if any, effects this had on their health.
The study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in December , started with 200 men and women aged 42-75. Half of these were instructed to walk for at least 20 minutes a day, at least twice a week, and to increase the total amounts of steps they walked each day. The other half were not given any instructions, and therefore served as the ‘controls’ against which any benefits in the exercise group could be measured.
The participants in the study were assessed in a variety of ways including a 3 minute walking test and a test which required them to sit on a chair, stand, and sit again as many times as possible for 30 seconds. The study lasted for a total of 32 weeks.
At the end of the study, both men and women saw significant improvements, compared to the non-exercising group, in both the 3-minute walking and sit and stand tests. Other testing revealed evidence of improvements in general health and vitality too.
This study provides yet more evidence that what amounts to relatively low levels of activity can benefit our health. Those inclined to make walking more of a part of their daily lives might be interested in investing in a pedometer: as I reported recently, there is some evidence that pedometer use might help to encourage walking.
1. Okamoto N, et al. Home-Based Walking Improves Cardiopulmonary Function and Health-Related QOL in Community-Dwelling Adults. Int J Sports Med 2007;28:1040-1045