Fight high blood pressure and heart disease by walking with the world.

One of the most natural ways to lower high blood pressure is through regular exercise. It is also extremely important for heart health and to prevent stroke. Walking in particular is one of the least expensive and most broadly accessible forms of physical activity in the world.

Nevertheless, a six-country survey conducted by the World Heart Federation (WHF) found that global levels of physical activity are declining. Between 14 to 37 percent of adults said they did not know how much time they spent briskly walking at a speed faster than normal; 55 percent do less than 30 minutes of brisk walking on a typical day; and people in the US and UK do less brisk walking than those in developing nations.

In an effort to motivate people around the world to exercise, the WHF and international healthcare group, Bupa, have officially launched the Ground Miles Challenge to get people around the world of all ages walking on a regular basis, to improve their heart health and mental well-being. The challenge, which marks World Heart Day on September 29, is supported by a Ground Miles app – a free, downloadable smartphone app that automatically tracks when, how far, and at what pace a person walks.

The global goal is to walk 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) by the end of 2013. When the 5 million mile mark is reached, Bupa will unlock funds that will be invested into programs to tackle rheumatic heart disease (RHD), the leading form of heart disease in young people.

According to the WHF, by reaching the recommended goal of minimum 30 minutes a day, five times a week of moderate exercise people can:

    • Increase life expectancy – even 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise (which includes brisk walking) can have significant health benefits, adding up to three years to life expectancy
    • Significantly reduce the risk of CVD – studies have shown reductions as high as 11 percent
    • Burn more fat than jogging – running an hour per day reduces the risk of heart disease by nearly five percent; however people who expended the same amount of energy walking per day can reduce the risk of heart disease by more than nine percent

As Dr. Srinath Reddy, World Heart Federation President, says, “Your feet can carry your heart very far in life.”

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