Most of us know that being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, a bad diet, and having a family history of heart problems are major risk factors for a heart attack.
But a large new study has uncovered another heart attack danger sign that may surprise you.
Researchers in England analyzed health data from over 400,000 middle-aged adults.1
The participants provided periodic blood, urine, and saliva samples. They also had their body mass index recorded and filled out detailed lifestyle questionnaires.
Researchers zeroed on walking pace. They wanted to see if it was a predictor of dying from heart disease.
The researchers divided people into three walking speed categories: slow, steady/average, and brisk. Then they looked at how many subjects in each group died of heart problems.2
After six years, the scientists found that men and women with a slow walking pace were twice as likely to die from heart disease as brisk walkers.3
Professor Tom Yates of the University of Leicester was the lead author of the study.
“This study suggests habitual walking pace is an independent predictor of heart-related death,” he said.4
“Self-reported walking pace could be used to identify individuals who have low physical fitness and high mortality risk that would benefit from targeted physical exercise interventions.”
Surprisingly, among slow walkers, it wasn’t the heavy people who were most at risk. It was the skinny subjects. People with lower than normal BMI had additional 10% risk of dying from heart disease.5
The study was published recently in the in European Heart Journal.
The Best Exercise for Heart Health
How can you tell if you’re a slow, average, or fast walker? It’s easy.
When you walk with other people, do you lag behind? Are you usually ahead of them? Or do you stay even with them?
If you’re a slow walker, it’s time to get in better shape. The best exercise plan for heart health that we know about is called high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
We’ve told you about it before. Research has proven that it is better for your heart and overall health than long hours of cardio like jogging.
Here’s how to do it…
Choose the aerobic activity of your choice. It can be running (on a treadmill or not), biking, swimming, using an elliptical exerciser, stair climber, rowing machine…anything that gets your heart pumping.
Warm up for 3 to 5 minutes, doing the activity slowly.
Then go as hard you as can for 30 to 60 seconds before slowing for one or two minutes to recover.
Alternate hard bursts with recovery intervals, repeating the cycle five to seven times. End with a two-minute cool down.
A HIIT session can be as short as 15 minutes, making it a great workout for people pressed for time.
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