Wide-Ranging Health Benefits of Walking Groups

Among the various modes of group fitness activities, joining an organized outdoor walking group is shown to confer improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, and mood.  Sarah Hanson, from the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom), and colleagues completed a meta-analysis of 42 studies of outdoor walking group interventions in adults.  Identifying data on more than 1,800 outdoor walkers in 14 countries, the researchers found that, on average, participants who joined walking groups experienced meaningful improvements in lung power, overall physical functioning and general fitness, in addition to the changes in blood pressure, body mass index and other important risk factor measures. The participants also tended to be less depressed after joining the walking groups.  The study authors write that: “Walking groups are effective and safe with good adherence and wide-ranging health benefits. They could be a promising intervention as an adjunct to other healthcare or as a proactive health-promoting activity.”

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