Using This When You Walk Could Help Prevent Stroke, Says New Research

Updated: Jun. 21, 2024

The researchers observed "significant" improvements in blood pressure and physical activity levels in people who used this to optimize their walking routine.

As we get older, our risk of stroke increases, with some research even indicating that the incidence of stroke doubles with each decade after the age of 45. You probably already know that managing your risk means targeting factors like your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight to keep your heart in healthy shape—but as you get older, keeping those metrics in check can be difficult.

One of the best ways to maintain heart health is regular exercise, which can come with aches, pains and roadblocks as you age. However, one typically accessible form of movement at any age is walking—and now, new research suggests optimizing your walking routine a certain way could help it be especially powerful in managing those varied stroke risk factors.

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A systematic review and meta-analysis published in June 2024 in BMC Geriatrics analyzed eight studies involving 1,546 participants between the ages of 60 and 85. The studies examined the results of pedometer-based walking programs for older people, measuring how using a pedometer or similar wearable device can affect someone’s activity level and by proxy, their heart health.

The studies the researchers reviewed included walking programs held two to three times a week, with sessions of 40-60 minutes over a duration of four to 26 weeks.

Across these examples, the researchers found that participating in pedometer-based walking programs led to “significant” improvements in physical activity levels and systolic blood pressure—or the top number in a blood pressure reading, which shows the pressure at which blood is leaving the heart. However, there was no significant change in diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number in a reading that indicates the pressure of blood vessels when the heart is at rest between beats.

The researchers also observed improvements in blood sugar levels and a small effect on triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy, though high levels can increase the risk of heart disease.

If you don’t feel up to a workout, whether it’s because of your age or your energy levels, incorporating daily walks into your routine is a simple and effective way to move your body and protect your health. Add a pedometer to help you stay motivated and accountable—and see for yourself the profound effects it can have on your activity level and heart health.

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