(HealthDay News) – Equivalent energy expenditure by moderate- or vigorous-intensity exercise is associated with similar risk reductions in coronary heart disease risk factors, according to a study published online April 4 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Paul T. Williams, PhD, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and Paul D. Thompson, MD, of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, examined the effects of exercise mode and intensity on coronary heart disease risk factors using data from the National Runners’ (33,060 participants) and Walkers’ (15,945 participants) Health Study cohorts.

During 6.2 years of follow-up, the researchers found that running correlated with a significantly decreased risk of incident hypertension (4.2%), hypercholesterolemia (4.3%), diabetes mellitus (12.1%), and coronary heart disease (4.5%) per metabolic equivalent hours per day. For walking, the corresponding reductions were 7.2%, 7%, 12.3%, and 9.3%. For running versus walking, the risk reductions were not significantly different for diabetes mellitus, hypertension, or coronary heart disease. For hypercholesterolemia, the risk reduction was marginally but significantly increased for walking versus running.

“Our results suggest similar benefit for similar energy expenditures,” the authors write. “These results should be used to encourage physical activity in general, regardless of its intensity.”

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

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