The Effect of Walking on Fitness, Fatness and Resting Blood Pressure

By Steven Tanaka, DC

Murphy MH, et al. The Effect of Walking on Fitness, Fatness and Resting Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials. Preventive Medicine May 2007; 44(5):377-385.

ABSTRACT:Objective: The purpose of this review was to perform a meta-analysis on walking intervention studies in order to quantify the magnitude and direction of walking-induced changes that may alter selected cardiovascular risk factors. Method: Twenty-four randomized controlled trials of walking were assessed for quality on a three-point scale. Data from these studies were pooled and treatment effects (TEs) were calculated for six traditional cardiovascular risk variables: body weight, body mass index (BMI) percentage body fat, aerobic fitness (VO2 max in ml kg-1 min – 1) and resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Weighted TEs were analyzed using a random effects model with weights obtained using the inverse of the individual TE variances. Random effects models were used to investigate the influence of both study quality and exercise volume (<150 vs. ≥150 min week-1). Results: Random effects modeling showed that walking interventions increased VO2 max and decreased body weight, BMI, percentage of body fat and resting diastolic blood pressure in previously sedentary adults (p<0.05 for all).

Conclusion: The results of this study provide evidence that healthy but sedentary individuals who take up a program of regular brisk walking improves several known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

COMMENTS: The conclusions speak for themselves. Interestingly, the diastolic blood pressure reduced significantly, but the systolic pressure did not change.