It may not be a new fad with a splashy name, but walking sure is making headlines more often these days, thanks to the growing well of research supporting its many benefits.
The latest addition to that well comes courtesy of scientists from Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The goal of their research review: to analyze current findings on group walking program outcomes. After sifting through relevant literature, the researchers settled on 42 studies involving 1,843 participants aged around 58. Subjects were 76% women, and 43% of the studies included women only. No male-only studies were located.
According to the data, regular participation in a group walking program offers myriad benefits.
“Statistically significant improvements were found in a range of widely used health measures; systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, BMI, total cholesterol, VO2max, depression, 6-minute walk time, and quality of life for physical functioning,” the authors explained. They added that many of the positive outcomes were present even when time spent walking did not meet recognized physical activity requirements.
Aside from offering overall health improvements among participants, walking can be a widely accessible exercise intervention for much of the population, the authors noted.
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