Pick up the pace! Your heart depends on it

Walking is a great way to get some fresh air, work your leg muscles and improve your heart health. While there are benefits to going for a stroll, increasing your speed a bit may be much more beneficial to your heart. A new study found that exercise intensity, not duration, is what matters most in the battle against metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors—including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, abnormal blood fat levels and abdominal obesity—that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

At the start of the study, one third of inactive women and 37 percent of men suffered from metabolic syndrome, compared to 10 percent of physically active women and 14 percent of men. After 10 years of follow-up, researchers found that daily fast walking cut the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 50 percent and jogging cut the risk by 40 percent.

If you’ve developed a walking routine to decrease your heart disease risks, try picking up the pace and even jogging. If you’re new to exercise, talk with your doctor before beginning a more intense walking or jogging regimen. Walking is one of the easiest and most efficient ways of getting exercise, so make sure to get off your couch and get moving!

To learn about the various forms of heart disease, click here or watch this video on maintaining a healthy heart. You can also visit Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute for physicians and services offered in your area.