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Sandals to Sneakers
Sadia Hanif

Do you prefer sandals to sneakers? Then cheer up: A new study indicates that even a few easy strolls a week can reduce your risk of heart disease.

I-Min Lee, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, quizzed nearly 40,000 women age 45 and older about their workout habits. Most of them, it turns out, were downright inactive.

But after tracking the women for five years, Lee discovered that a little exercise had gone a long way. Those who burned as few as 200 to 600 calories a week still cut their odds of heart disease by 30 percent. Women who had stepped it up and were burning 600 to 1,500 calories a week saw their risk nearly halved. The results held even for those who smoked, were overweight, or had high cholesterol.

And when Lee focused on women who walked for exercise, she found that tortoises earned the same risk reductions as hares. Speed, it turns out, was not as important as the amount of time spent walking. Once you get in the exercise habit, though, upping the intensity of your workout can further help your heart, say Lee and other experts.

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