Quantifying the dose-response of walking in reducing coronary heart disease risk: meta-analysis


The evidence for the efficacy of walking in reducing the risk of and preventing coronary heart disease (CHD) is not completely understood. This meta-analysis aimed to quantify the dose-response relationship between walking and CHD risk reduction for both men and women in the general population. Studies on walking and CHD primary prevention between 1954 and 2007 were identified through Medline, SportDiscus and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Random-effect meta-regression models were used to pool the relative risks from individual studies. A total of 11 prospective cohort studies and one randomized control trial study met the inclusion criteria, with 295,177 participants free of CHD at baseline and 7,094 cases at follow-up. The meta-analysis indicated that an increment of approximately 30 min of normal walking a day for 5 days a week was associated with 19% CHD risk reduction (95% CI = 14–23%; P-heterogeneity = 0.56; I 2 = 0%). We found no evidence of heterogeneity between subgroups of studies defined by gender (P = 0.67); age of the study population (P = 0.52); or follow-up duration (P = 0.77). The meta-analysis showed that the risk for developing CHD decreases as walking dose increases. Walking should be prescribed as an evidence-based effective exercise modality for CHD prevention in the general population.

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The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable comments by two anonymous reviewers.

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Correspondence to Henry Zheng.

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Zheng, H., Orsini, N., Amin, J. et al. Quantifying the dose-response of walking in reducing coronary heart disease risk: meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol 24, 181–192 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-009-9328-9

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  • Coronary heart disease
  • Exercise
  • Meta-analysis
  • Physical activity
  • Walking