Adults with heart problems can avoid being hospitalized if they walk at a faster pace

According to a study, your walking speed is linked to more than your stamina.

The results of a study have determined that patients with cardiovascular disease who walked faster are hospitalized less. The three-year study, which was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, involved 1,078 participants with hypertension– at least 85 percent of the individuals were also diagnosed with coronary heart disease while about 15 percent also had valve disease.

Walking speed and heart health

For the study, researchers observed the patients, who were asked to walk one kilometer (km) on a treadmill at a moderate intensity.

The participants were classified into three groups:

  • Slow walkers – With a walking speed of 2.6 km per hour (km/hour).
  • Intermediate – With a walking speed of 3.9 km/hour.
  • Fast – With an average walking speed of 5.1 km/hour.

After testing, results determined that there were 359 slow walkers, 362 intermediate walkers, and 357 fast walkers among the participants.

The researchers took note of the number of all-cause hospitalizations and length of stay within the next three years. Participants were monitored by the regional Health Service Registry of the Emilia-Romagna Region that gathers information on all-cause hospitalization.

Dr. Carlotta Merlo, a study author and a researcher at the University of Ferrara, shared that they did not exclude any causes of death since”walking speed has significant consequences for public health.”

Dr. Merlo added that reduced walking speed is a marker of limited mobility. A slower walking speed can also indicate “disability, disease, and loss of autonomy.” (Related: Good for body and mind: Women who go for a walk at least twice a week reduce their risk of heart failure by 20 percent.)

In the study, 51 percent of the slow walkers (182 participants) included at least one hospitalization, compared to 44 percent of the intermediate walkers (160 participants), and 31 percent (110 participants) of the fast walkers.

Overall, the slow, intermediate, and fast walkers stayed in the hospital for a total of 4,186, 2,240, and 990 days over the three-year period, respectively.

On average, the average length of hospital stay for every patient was 23, 14, and 9 days for the slow, intermediate and fast walkers, respectively.

The researchers found that every one km/hour increase in walking speed is linked to about a 19 percent reduction in the chances of getting hospitalized during the three-year period. Unlike the slow walkers, the fast walkers had a 37 percent chance of getting hospitalized in three years.

Dr. Merlo explained that if a patient has a faster walking speed, they also have a lower risk of hospitalization and a shorter length of hospital stay. Because reduced walking speed is a marker of limited mobility, which is usually connected to reduced decreased physical activity, the researchers posit that participants who belonged to the fast walker group also walked fast in real life.

He also noted that, fortunately, walking is a popular form of exercise among adults. Unlike other physical activities, walking doesn’t require special training or equipment, it’s free, and it can be done almost anywhere.

She concluded that everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from fast-paced and regular walks. This study also confirmed that walking every day offers more health benefits, especially when the walking speed is increased.

Take a quick walk every day to boost your heart health and avoid hospitalization.

Walking tips

Check out these tips before you take a walk around the block:

  • Plan your walking regimen – When you’re planning your walking program, keep in mind your stamina and health. A 20-minute walk every day should suffice.
  • Always warm up – Don’t start walking without limbering up first.
  • Set the pace – Pick a route you’re familiar with and start slow. If you’re new to walking, choose a flat surface. Incorporate arm motions into your walking routine so you can also work out your torso. Increase your walking speed after five to 10 minutes, which should be enough to get a comfortable walking pace.
  • Follow a walking program suitable for you – While the key to this walking program is a faster pace, don’t overdo yourself. Give yourself time to adjust before you push yourself to walk faster.

You can read more articles about how regular exercise can improve your cardiovascular health at

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