We already know that something as simple and delightful as taking a walk can have massive benefits for your overall health. A recent study even found that walking for just 40 minutes several times per week reduces the risk of heart failure in post-menopausal women by a whopping 25 percent. Now, a new study published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that walking at a brisk pace has a previously unknown impact on your longevity.
To conduct the study, University of Sydney researchers analyzed the self-reported walking pace in the mortality records of over 50,000 people in the UK between 1994 and 2008. Adjusting their results based on the age, sex, BMI, and exercise of all participants, they found that walking at a brisk pace was associated with a 24 percent lower risk of all-cause morality, versus only 20 percent when walking at a slow pace. They also discovered a 24 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, versus only 21 percent in slow walkers.
The impact of pace was especially pronounced, however, in those aged 60 or older. Those who walk at a brisk pace had a 54 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, versus only 46 percent in people who walk at an average pace.
What constitutes as a “fast pace” you might ask?
“A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometres [three to four miles] 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,” lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health said in a university newsletter.
While walking faster was not found to reduce your risk of cancer, the study, which is the first of its kind, suggests the importance of encouraging people to pick up the pace.
“Assuming our results reflect cause and effect, these analyses suggest that increasing walking pace may be a straightforward way for people to improve heart health and risk for premature mortality – providing a simple message for public health campaigns to promote,” Stamatakis said. “Especially in situations when walking more isn’t possible due to time pressures or a less walking-friendly environment, walking faster may be a good option to get the heart rate up – one that most people can easily incorporate into their lives.”
For more secrets to longevity, check out the New Science-Backed Workout That’s Extending Elderly Lives. And to find out how to use a fitness app to track your speed and make money just by walking, check out How Sweatcoin Can Change Your Life.
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