A study published in last week's Journal of the American Medical Assn. concludes that women who walk three miles a day, five days a week are reducing their risk of heart disease, regardless of how fast they walk.
"If we can just convince the masses to take up a little bit of exercise, we can go a long way in preventing the number of deaths in America from heart disease," researcher John Duncan said.
The study of 102 women found those who took 12 minutes to walk a mile and those who took 20 minutes each had the same increase of 6% in beneficial high-density cholesterol. They also had the same reduced risk of heart disease.
"It's never too late to exercise, and exercise at even low levels is inherently beneficial," Duncan said. "When you look at walking for health, intensity doesn't seem to be as important."
The 24-week study was conducted at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas.