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How walking to work (and back) can reduce the risk of a heart attack

Walking to work every day can reduce the risk of a heart attack, but only if it is a fairly long walk.

New research shows that workers who commute a total of at least 45 minutes on foot – or just over 20 minutes each way – have better cardiovascular health than workers who rely on cars or public transport.

Blood tests showed they had much lower levels of C-reactive protein, a harmful molecule known to be linked to an increased risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Elevated CRP levels can indicate dangerous inflammation in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart and brain.

It is known that regular brisk walking is good for the heart.

New research shows that workers who commute a total of at least 45 minutes on foot (or just over 20 minutes each way) have better cardiovascular health than workers who rely on cars or public transport (stock image)

But researchers from the University of Eastern Finland wanted to see how much time workers need to commute on foot to reap the benefits.

They followed more than 6,000 working men and women to see how they got to work and back.

The volunteers also underwent blood tests to measure their C-reactive protein levels.

The results, published in the European Journal of Public Health, showed that a daily 15-minute round trip (or just over seven minutes round trip) led to a small reduction – around seven percent – ​​in CRP levels, compared to those who drove. or used public transport.

Researchers said this is unlikely to have a major impact on heart health.

But those who walked 45 minutes – or just over 20 minutes each way – had CRP levels almost 18 percent lower than those of other commuters.

The findings could serve as a wake-up call for millions of people in Britain who currently travel to and from work by car, bus or train.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that just over 45 percent of the UK workforce currently drives to and from the office.

Only seven percent walk.

And a 2018 survey of 2,000 adults in Britain found that 40 percent believed a 30-minute walk to any destination was too far to travel on foot – they would drive instead or use another means of transportation.

In a report on their findings, researchers said so-called ‘active commuting’, such as walking, could make a huge difference to workers’ health.

“Forty-five minutes per day is associated with lower levels of inflammation,” they said.

‘Promoting active modes of transport such as walking could lead to health benefits at the population level.’