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Reduced Diabetic, Hypertensive, and Cholesterol Medication Use with Walking


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 3 - p 433-443
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31815f38f1
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: To assess the relationships of walking distance, frequency, and intensity to the prevalence of antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and LDL cholesterol-lowering medications use.

Methods: Cross-sectional analyses of 32,683 female and 8112 male participants of the National Walkers' Health Study, of whom 2.8% and 7.4% reported antidiabetic, 14.3% and 29.0% reported antihypertensive, and 7.3% and 21.5% reported LDL cholesterol-lowering medication use, respectively.

Results: Weekly walking distance, longest walk, and walking intensity were inversely related to the prevalence of antidiabetic (males: P < 0.001, females: P < 0.0001), antihypertensive (males: P < 0.01, females: P < 0.0001), and LDL cholesterol-lowering medications (males: P < 0.01, females: P < 0.0001). Each medication remained significantly related to both walking intensity and longest weekly walk when adjusted for total weekly distance. Compared with men and women who walked at a speed of < 1.2 m·s−1, those who walked > 2.1 m·s−1 had 48% and 52% lower odds for antihypertensive, 68% and 59% lower odds for antidiabetic, and 53% and 40% lower odds for LDL cholesterol-lowering medications, respectively, when adjusted for age, smoking, and diet. The longest usual weekly walk was a better discriminator of medication status than the total cumulative distance per week, particularly in men.

Conclusion: These results are consistent with the hypothesis that antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and LDL cholesterol-lowering medication use may be reduced substantially by walking more intensely and farther each week, and by including longer walks.

Donner Laboratory, Life Sciences Division, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

Address for correspondence: Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., Donner Laboratory, Life Sciences Division, Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, CA. 94720; E-mail:

Submitted for publication July 2007.

Accepted for publication October 2007.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine