It is accepted that lipid and inflammatory changes play major roles in the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. It’s also known that walking is a form of exercise associated with improvements in lipid profiles and inflammation markers. Now a Chinese research group has turned its attention to these benefits of walking at two different times of the day.. The findings are reported in the journal Preventive Medicine.
Patients with coronary heart disease were recruited in Nanjing. A total of 330 patients were randomly assigned to a control group, morning walking, or evening walking (110 patients in each group). Walking involved at least 30 minutes daily at 2½ miles an hour on at least 5 days a week, either in the morning or evening, for 12 weeks. Lipids (total, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and inflammatory markers (serum fibrinogen, high sensitivity C-reactive protein [hsCRP], white blood cell count) were measured before and after walking sessions.
By the end of the study, 55 patients had dropped out: 13 in the control group, and 21 in each of the walking groups. The average age of the remaining 275 patients was 63, and 67% were males. After 12 weeks, both walking groups had significantly increased their duration, distance, speed and total time of walking.
Analyses showed that, compared with baseline, the 12-week average cholesterol values (total, low- and high-density) were improved in all groups. However, the lipid changes were significantly greater in the evening walkers than in the controls and the morning walkers. Other changes – decreased serum fibrinogen, hsCRP, and white blood count – were also significantly greater in the evening walking group.
The present study found no change in blood sugar measurements, but it wasn’t focused on sugar metabolism. However, a previous study has shown benefits of evening walking over morning walking in warding off diabetes. So there’s gathering evidence that an evening walk may be just the thing to put you on a healthy path. But make sure it’s regular and fairly fast and far . . .