Walking faster could make you live longer, study

Increased walking pace associated with reduced mortality risk

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A new study by the University of Sydney suggests that speeding up your walking pace could extend your life. It is also associated with a 20 percent risk diminishment for all-cause mortality.

Observation of the data from the people who walk at a brisk or fast pace, scientists found 24% risk reduction of cardiovascular disease mortality.

The defensive impacts of walking pace were additionally observed to be more pronounced in older age groups. Normal pace walkers aged 60 years or over experienced a 46 percent decrease in risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and quick pace walkers a 53 percent reduction.

Lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre said, “A fast pace is generally five to six 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.”

Linking mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 – in which participants self-reported their walking pace – the research team then adjusted for factors such as total amount and intensity of all physical activity taken, age, sex, and body mass index.

Professor Stamatakis said, “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. While sex and body mass index did not appear to influence outcomes, walking at an average or fast pace was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease.”

“There was no evidence to suggest pace had a significant influence on cancer mortality, however.”

“Separating the effect of one specific aspect of physical activity and understanding its potentially causal association with risk of premature death is complex. 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.”

The study is published today in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine (from the BMJ Journals group) dedicated to Walking and Health, edited by lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health.