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.