The faster You Walk, The Longer You May Live

Two senior African American women, doing tai chi exercises at the park.

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A new study brings good news to walkers — and especially to those who favor a brisker pace in their strolls. The faster you walk, the more you may be prolonging your lifespan, the researchers have found.

New research investigates the links between walking pace and mortality risks.

It’s a known fact that walking can help to protect our health and prolong our lives.

Walking for as little as 2 hours per week brings down the risk of all-cause mortality.

This activity has also been linked with enhanced cognitive abilities and better psychological well-being .

But while most studies have only looked at the impact that walking as an activity can have on various aspects of health, or focused on how much time you should spend walking in order to enjoy the benefits, not much attention has been paid to how walking speed can impact long-term outcomes.

This is exactly what scientists from five institutions across two continents set out to explore. These institutions include the University of Sydney in Australia, the University of Limerick in Ireland, and the Universities of the Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Ulster, all in the United Kingdom.

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Lead researcher Prof. Emmanuel Stamatakis — from the University of Sydney — and team explored the links between walking speed and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer , and all causes.

“Walking pace is associated with all-cause mortality risk, but its specific role — independent from the total physical activity a person undertakes — has received little attention until now,” explains Prof. Stamatakis.

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The team’s findings are now published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine .

Walk for your life

The team analyzed 11 population-based surveys conducted in the U.K. in 1994–2008, gathering data on 50,225 walkers.

From the surveys, Prof. Stamatakis and colleagues collected information on the participants’ self-reported walking pace, which was characterzied as “slow,” “average,” or “brisk” (fast).

“A fast pace,” notes Prof. Stamatakis, “is generally 5 to 7 kilometres per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained.”

Cc Medical News Today by Maria Cohut

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