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Moderate Exercise Cuts Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Date:12/17/2007

Just a 30-minute walk most days reduces threat, even without diet changes, study finds

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A brisk 30-minute walk most days of the week is enough to undo metabolic syndrome, a health condition that can lead to heart disease, diabetes and stroke, a new study suggests.

"What we found was a modest amount of moderate intensity exercise was very effective in improving metabolic syndrome risk," said study author Johanna L. Johnson, a clinical researcher at Duke University Medical Center's department of medicine.

At the start of the study, 41 percent of the 171 participants had metabolic syndrome; at the end, just 27 percent did. The study was published in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

About one-quarter of all U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that can eventually set you up for more serious health problems. While some experts debate the validity of considering metabolic syndrome a disease unto itself, the risk factors are potentially dangerous. They include a large waist circumference; high blood pressure; high levels of triglycerides; low levels of good (HDL) cholesterol; and high blood sugar. If you have three or more of the five risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome.

Johnson and her colleagues looked at the effects of different amounts and intensities of exercise.

The researchers assigned the 171 men and women to one of four groups. One was a control group, whose members continued to be sedentary. The other three groups included:

  • A low amount/moderate intensity group. They did brisk walking three to five days a week, aiming for about 11 miles, and typically putting in about three hours a week.
  • A low amount/vigorous intensity group. They did the same 11 or so miles but at a jogging pace, so they ended up getting about two hours of exercise a week.
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