Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer worldwide, and in the lead up to World Heart Day on September 29th, a global survey was conducted about how much time individuals spend walking each day.

Many respondents did not know, and the majority who did know walk less than the recommended daily minimum of 30 minutes.

The survey, conducted by the World Heart Federation, focused on walking because, according to the organization, it is one of the simplest things we can do to protect our heart health.

Six countries – Brazil, China, India, Spain, UK and US – participated in the survey, which was conducted by YouGov and yielded a total of 7,367 respondents over 18 years of age in August 2013.

The survey asked two questions: how much time do you spend walking at a slow pace each day and how much time at a fast pace?

Results from the study show that:

  • In the US and UK, one in three adults do not know how much they walk each day, compared with only one in six adults in India.
  • In the six countries surveyed, 55% of respondents who reported times walk briskly for less than 30 minutes each day.
  • In the US and UK, only about 33% of adults do the recommended 30 minutes of brisk walking each day, compared with about 50% of adults in Brazil and India.

Dr. Kathryn Taubert, chief science officer from the World Heart Federation, says:

“Awareness is the first step to a healthy heart. Paying attention to how much we walk should be as simple as watching what we eat. On World Heart Day, we are urging people to take action to protect their hearts.”

By reaching the recommended guideline of minimum 30 minutes of moderate exercise, which includes brisk walking at least five days a week, many premature deaths can be prevented.”

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Though most people do not meet the minimum of 30 minutes daily, walking can increase life expectancy by 3 years and prevent the leading cause of death worldwide.

Researchers from the World Heart Federation say that in order to prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke, we need to raise awareness around risk factors, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, obesity and tobacco use.

They say that regular moderate exercise, including walking, has many heart benefits.

Walking, they note, is one of the most accessible and least expensive ways to achieve the recommended physical activity to prevent heart diseases.

By walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, the World Heart Federation says people can increase their life expectancy by up to 3 years, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorder by as much as 11%, and burn more fat than jogging.

As World Heart Federation President Dr. Srinath Reddy says, “Your feet can carry your heart very far in life.”

According to the organization, if people do not take action to live heart-healthy lives, cardiovascular disease will continue to be the leading cause of death worldwide, causing an estimated 23.6 million deaths each year by 2030.