Objective: The purpose of this review was to perform a meta-analysis on walking intervention studies in order to quantify the magnitude and direction of walking-induced changes that may alter selected cardiovascular risk factors.
Method: Twenty-four randomised controlled trials of walking were assessed for quality on a three-point scale. Data from these studies were pooled and treatment effects (TEs) were calculated for six traditional cardiovascular risk variables: body weight, body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat, aerobic fitness (V(O(2) )max in ml kg(-1) min(-1)) and resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Weighted TEs were analysed using a random effects model with weights obtained using the inverse of the individual TE variances. Random effects models were used to investigate the influence of both study quality and exercise volume (<150 vs. > or =150 min week(-1)).
Results: Random effects modelling showed that walking interventions increased V(O(2) )max and decreased body weight, BMI, percent body fat and resting diastolic blood pressure in previously sedentary adults (p<0.05 for all).
Conclusion: The results of this study provide evidence that healthy but sedentary individuals who take up a programme of regular brisk walking improves several known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.