(NaturalNews) What's your excuse not to exercise? Can't afford a gym membership? Think you are too old, too out of shape or too heavy to start running? New findings which researchers are describing as "surprising" should put some pep in your step when it comes to exercising -- literally. It turns out that simply walking at a brisk pace can slash your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running can.
For the new study, just reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, scientists analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners' Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers' Health Study. The study participants were 18 to 80 years old, and most were in their 40s and 50s.
The results showed that the same energy used for simply walking at moderate intensity and the energy expended for vigorous, intense running added up to similar reductions in risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study's six years. Unlike other studies, the scientists measured walking and running by distance covered, not by the time it took to walk or run a certain distance.
Why walking is as good as - or better - than running
"Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities," Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., the study's principal author and staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkeley, California, said in media statement.
In fact, walking actually scored better than running when it came to improving hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), diabetes and coronary heart disease. For example, while running reduced coronary heart disease by 4.5 percent, walking reduced it by almost 10 percent. Running reduced the risk for first time high blood pressure by 4.2 percent, while walking reduced it by 7.2 percent. And walking reduced first time high cholesterol levels by 7 percent, while running only lowered first time high cholesterol measurements by 4.3 percent.
"Walking may be a more sustainable activity for some people when compared to running, however, those who choose running end up exercising twice as much as those that choose walking. This is probably because they can do twice as much in an hour," Williams said. "People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise, but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health."
The new research joins a growing number of studies that show simply walking has enormous health benefits. As NaturalNews has previously reported, a study published in the Arthritis Care and Research journal found that walking helps arthritis symptoms. Harvard researchers have also discovered that women can dramatically slash their risk for both clot-caused (ischemic) strokes as well as bleeding (hemorrhagic) strokes by simply walking regularly.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.