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Walking faster could make you live longer

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*How aerobic exercise may treat drug, alcohol
addiction by halting flood of feel-good chemical

Speeding up your walking pace could extend your life, research led by the University of Sydney, Australia suggests.

Walking at an average pace was found to be associated with a 20 percent risk reduction for all-cause mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24 percent.

A similar result was found for risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, with a reduction of 24 percent walking at an average pace and 21 percent walking at a brisk or fast pace, compared to walking at a slow pace.

The protective effects of walking pace were also found to be more pronounced in older age groups. Average pace walkers aged 60 years or over experienced a 46 percent reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and fast pace walkers a 53 percent reduction.

Published Friday, the findings appear in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine (from the BMJ Journals group) dedicated to Walking and Health, edited by lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health.

“A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometres per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained,” Professor Stamatakis explained.

A collaboration between the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health, the University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, University of Limerick and University of Ulster, the researchers sought to determine the associations between walking pace with all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.

Linking mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 — in which participants self-reported their walking pace — the research team then adjusted for factors such as total amount and intensity of all physical activity taken, age, sex and body mass index.

“Walking pace is associated with all-cause mortality risk, but its specific role — independent from the total physical activity a person undertakes — has received little attention until now,” Professor Stamatakis said.

Also, a new research suggests aerobic exercise may help treat drug or alcohol addiction by preventing the flood of a feel-good chemical.

University of Buffalo scientists believe integrating exercise into current treatment could boost success rates of addicts wanting to quit.

Animal trials show running each day can stop the flood of dopamine that can leave some hooked on harmful substances.

Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter linked with substance use disorders. It plays an important role in reward, motivation and learning.

The British National Health Service (NHS) guidelines recommend adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, such as brisk walking.

It is already known to slash the risk of heart disease, arthritis and diabetes – and some studies have suggested it can prevent relapses.

How was the study carried out? The new experiment, led by Dr. Panayotis Thanos, was conducted on rats who either ran on a treadmill five days a week or were sedentary.

Brain scans of the rodents were then taken after six weeks to assess any exercise-induced changes in their dopamine signalling pathways.

What did the study find? The experts discovered the rats who exercised had different mesolimbic dopamine pathways – which carries the neurotransmitter from one part of the brain to another.

They also had 21 per cent lower dopamine receptor one-like binding levels in their nucleus accumbens shell – part of the brain’s reward pathway.

The study, by scientists at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.


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