Apples may keep the doctor away, but can we say the same for walking? With heart health, the answer could be yes, according to a study conducted by Binghampton University researchers and published in Creative Nursing (2016; 20 , 268–75).
The study included 70 women aged 29–79 living in rural New York who were asked to walk briskly for at least 150 minutes per week for 10 weeks while wearing pedometers. The goal was to see if the women experienced improvements in BMI, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, cardiovascular risk and a 6-minute walk test. At the 5-week mark, the women returned to the study site to discuss heart health and were offered a raffle challenge to increase their weekly steps by 10% for the remainder of the intervention. The secondary challenge was designed to increase steps taken and keep the women motivated to finish the study.
At completion, there were improvements in weight, BMI, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and the 6-minute walk test. The secondary challenge proved successful: Participants walked significantly more during the final 5 weeks.
“The data suggest that a community walking program using pedometers with tracking capabilities was successful in increasing steps and improving select cardiovascular disease risk factors in a group of women in a rural community in New York,” the authors concluded.