If post-menopausal women walk at an average pace for at least 40 minutes several times per week, their risk of heart disease will drop nearly 25%, according to new research from Brown University.

Their analysis shows walking is almost equal to all different types of exercise that have been studied in terms of lowering heart disease.

Heart failure rates rise with age. Women 75-84 years of age have three times as great a chance to have heart failure, compared to women 65-74 years old. Older women may be more interested in simply walking instead of other more extreme exercise, including working out at a gym, researchers say.

Data for the study comes from the Women’s Health Initiative, a study of women’s habits and health outcomes from 1991-2005. Participants self-reported their walking behavior and health outcomes for the duration of the study. Women walking at least twice a week had a 20% to 25% lower risk of heart failure than those who walked less frequently. Also, those who walked for 40 minutes or more at a time had a 21% to 25% lower risk those taking shorter walks. And women who walked at an average rate had a 26% lower risk than those walking at a casual pace. For a fast pace, there was a 38% lower risk.

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