From: Reuters
Published January 15, 2008 08:36 PM

At-home walking regimen boosts fitness

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An at-home, unsupervised exercise program can improve fitness and well being, Japanese researchers report.

Adults instructed to walk aerobically for at least 20 minutes at least twice a week and to increase the total number of steps they walked daily showed significant gains in stamina, vitality and mental health after 32 weeks, Dr. Nozomi Okamoto of Nara Medical University School of Medicine in Kashihara and colleagues report.

While the health benefits of exercise are clear, most studies investigating these benefits have involved supervised workouts, which can be costly and inconvenient in real life, the researchers point out. In the current study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, they tested whether an at-home, unsupervised 32-week program would also be beneficial.

The researchers randomly assigned 200 adults 42 to 75 years old to the exercise group or to a control group. In addition to walking, the exercisers were asked to attend a two-hour exercise class every four weeks.


At the end of the program, people in the exercise group showed significant improvements in a test of walking stamina and another test that required them to sit on a chair, stand, and sit again as many times as possible for 30 seconds. Male exercisers showed a greater increase in general and mental health than their counterparts in the control group, while women reported better physical functioning, general health and vitality.

The benefits of the program were "comparable" to those that would be seen with a standard supervised exercise program, Okamoto and colleagues write.

"The present method can be recommended as feasible for application in the community because many opportunities to perform home-based walking exist in daily life," they conclude.

SOURCE: International Journal of Sports Medicine, December 2007.

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