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A heart-strengthening pace: brisk but comfortable

Orlando, Fla., Nov. 11 The pace that feels right probably is. When it comes to fitness, a brisk, comfortable walking pace strengthens the heart, researchers reported today at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2003.

The American Heart Association and other advisory groups recommend that all Americans regularly participate in moderate-to-vigorous exercise that boosts the heart rate to more than 55 percent of its maximum.

"A large segment of the population still believes exercise must be vigorous, demanding or involve more complicated activities than walking to adequately raise one's heart rate. This perception of 'no pain, no gain' can discourage people from starting to exercise at all," said lead investigator Kyle McInnis, Sc.D., professor of exercise science at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

The researchers studied 84 obese adults (72 women, 12 men, average age 41), who were seeking professional advice on a safe level of exercise.

"These were middle-aged people like many others. They were between 30 and 100 pounds overweight, with below-average aerobic endurance, and had been thinking about starting to exercise and lose some weight," McInnis said.

At the first visit, researchers measured heart rate and oxygen use, while the subjects walked on a treadmill with a gradually increasing steepness until they felt fatigued.

On a different day, the subjects walked one mile on the treadmill with instructions to maintain a "brisk but comfortable" pace. Participants completed the walk in an average of 18.7 minutes, at an average speed of 3.2 miles per hour.

During the self-paced walk, all the participants achieved the recommended levels of exercise intensity, based on their previous heart rate measures. Thirteen were at moderate intensity (55-69 percent of maximum heart rate), 58 at hard intensity (70-89 percent) and 13 at very hard intensity (90-100 percent).

"Comparison with the treadmill te
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
11-Nov-2003


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