Brisk Walk lowers Death Risk in Elderly Men, Study


Death risk in older men suffering from high blood pressure can be reduced by engaging them in moderate levels of fitness, according to a George Washington University study.

"This level of fitness is achievable by most elderly individuals by engaging in a brisk walk for 20 to 40 minutes, most days of the week," said Charles Faselis, M.D., lead author of the study and chief and professor of medicine at the George Washington University, in a press release.

For the study, researchers examined the fitness levels of 2,153 men - aged 70 years and above and battling with high blood pressure - by a standard treadmill exercise test and used metabolic equivalents (METs) to determine the men's peak fitness levels.

Researchers classified the men under four levels: very low fitness, low fitness, moderate fitness, and high fitness. The MET level of an inactive 50-year-old is about five to six units; seven to nine METs for a moderately fit individual, 10 to 12 units for a highly fit person. Marathon runners, cyclists and other athletes have MET levels of 20 or higher units.

After surveying the individuals for nine years, the researchers found that the death risk was lowered by 11 percent for every 1 MET-increase in exercise capacity.

When researchers compared the least fit men category (up to 4 peak METs) to the others, they discovered that the low fit category (4.1 to 6 peak METs) had an 18 percent reduced death risk, the mortality risk of moderately fit men (6.1 to 8 peak METs) witnessed a 36 percent drop, whereas the death risk in highly fit men (peak METs of more than 8) was reduced by 48 percent.

"For every 100 people who died in the very low fit category - 82 died in the low fit, 64 in the moderate fit and 52 in the high fit categories. The death rate is cut in half for those in the highest fitness category," said Peter Kokkinos, Ph.D., senior author and professor at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Georgetown University School of Medicine and George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The report is published in American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

A latest American Heart Association study found that consuming fruits and vegetables in large quantities help in lowering the risk of stroke worldwide.

"Improving diet and lifestyle is critical to heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population," said Yan Qu, M.D., the study's senior author, director of the intensive care unit at Qingdao Municipal Hospital and professor at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China.

"In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements," Qu added.

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