Reduced diabetic, hypertensive, and cholesterol medication use with walking

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Mar;40(3):433-43. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31815f38f1.


Purpose: To assess the relationships of walking distance, frequency, and intensity to the prevalence of antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and LDL cholesterol-lowering medications use.

Methods: Cross-sectional analyses of 32,683 female and 8112 male participants of the National Walkers' Health Study, of whom 2.8% and 7.4% reported antidiabetic, 14.3% and 29.0% reported antihypertensive, and 7.3% and 21.5% reported LDL cholesterol-lowering medication use, respectively.

Results: Weekly walking distance, longest walk, and walking intensity were inversely related to the prevalence of antidiabetic (males: P < 0.001, females: P < 0.0001), antihypertensive (males: P < 0.01, females: P < 0.0001), and LDL cholesterol-lowering medications (males: P < 0.01, females: P < 0.0001). Each medication remained significantly related to both walking intensity and longest weekly walk when adjusted for total weekly distance. Compared with men and women who walked at a speed of < 1.2 m.s, those who walked > 2.1 m.s had 48% and 52% lower odds for antihypertensive, 68% and 59% lower odds for antidiabetic, and 53% and 40% lower odds for LDL cholesterol-lowering medications, respectively, when adjusted for age, smoking, and diet. The longest usual weekly walk was a better discriminator of medication status than the total cumulative distance per week, particularly in men.

Conclusion: These results are consistent with the hypothesis that antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and LDL cholesterol-lowering medication use may be reduced substantially by walking more intensely and farther each week, and by including longer walks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Hypercholesterolemia / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physical Exertion
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking / physiology*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Hypoglycemic Agents