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Circulation. 1999 Jul 6;100(1):9-13.

Effects of walking on coronary heart disease in elderly men: the Honolulu Heart Program.

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  • 1Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA, USA.



Effects of walking on the risk of coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality have not been identified in the elderly. The purpose of this study was to determine whether walking is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in a sample of elderly men.


For this study, distance walked (mile/d) was examined at a baseline examination that occurred from 1991 to 1993 in the Honolulu Heart Program. Incident coronary heart disease from all causes was observed over a 2- to 4-year follow-up period. Subjects followed up were 2678 physically capable elderly men aged 71 to 93 years. During the course of follow-up, 109 men developed coronary heart disease. Men who walked <0.25 mile/d had a 2-fold increased risk of coronary heart disease versus those who walked >1. 5 mile/d (5.1% versus 2.5%; P<0.01). Men who walked 0.25 to 1.5 mile/d were also at a significantly higher risk of coronary heart disease than men who walked longer distances (4.5% versus 2.5%; P<0. 05). Adjustment for age and other risk factors failed to alter these findings.


Findings from the Honolulu Heart Program, which targeted physically capable elderly men, suggest that the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced with increases in distance walked. Combined with evidence that suggests that an active lifestyle reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in younger and more diverse groups, this suggests that important health benefits could be derived by encouraging the elderly to walk.

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