New York: Elderly people who walk faster and longer face a lower risk of cardio-vascular disease (CVD), a large prospective community-based study of older Americans has found.
The study found that those who were more active had significantly lower risk of future heart attacks and stroke.
The findings hold good for both men and women and those older than 75 years.
The researchers at Tufts University studied a group of American adults whose mean age was 73 at the start of the study and who were then followed for 10 years.
As researchers evaluated different aspects of physical activity by the men and women during this 10-year period - a greater pace, walking distance, and leisure activity - each was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Adults who walked at a pace faster than 5 kmph had a 50 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and total CVD, as well as 53 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who walked at a pace of less than 3 kmph.
Those who walked an average of seven blocks per day or more had a 36 percent lower risk of CHD and 54 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who walked up to five blocks per week.
Those who engaged in leisure activities such as lawn-mowing, gardening, swimming, biking and hiking, also had a lower risk of CHD, stroke and total CVD, compared to those who did not engage in leisure-time activities.
"It appears that whether one increases the total distance or the pace of walking, CVD risk is lowered. Fortunately, walking is an activity that many older adults can enjoy," said first author Luisa Soares-Miranda.