Not a fitness fan? You don't have to suffer through the huffing and puffing of running. New research reveals that a few walks a week may be all you need to slim down and ward off a potentially life-threatening stroke. According to a large new study in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal, women who walked two or more hours a week faced a significantly lower risk of stroke than more sedentary ladies -- by a whopping 37 percent.
Though the exact reasons for this protective benefit remain unclear, the study results continue to strongly support the idea that "regular physical activity is key for optimal health," according Jacob Sattelmair, M.Sc., author of the study and doctoral candidate in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.
Strenuous activity isn't always essential. "Regular walks can also be an important part of achieving this," he says. In fact, for maximum health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
If you're now inspired to go explore your neighborhood on foot, and want to learn more about the best-reviewed walking gear, visit out our detailed reports on treadmills, pedometers hiking boots, and trekking poles.