Brisk walking is as good for the heart as vigorous exercise, according to figures from the ongoing Nurses' Health Study.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School examined the associations between total physical activity, walking and vigorous exercise, and the incidence of coronary events among 72,488 female nurses who were aged 40 to 65 in 1986.
During the eight years follow up, there were 645 coronary events defined as non fatal heart attack and death from heart disease.
Although vigorous exercise has long been thought to be the best choice for those wishing to prevent coronary heart disease, in this study brisk walking exerted the same protective effect. Walking three or more hours per week was equivalent to 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise and was similarly associated with a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in the risk of heart attack (N Eng J Med, 1999; 341: 650-8).