Study finds fast walkers are 'more likely' to live longer

Henrietta Strickland
May 18, 2019

Researchers have found that fast walkers live longer than slow walkers.

The median age of the participants in the prospective cohort study used for the analyses was 58.2 years, with an average BMI of 26.7, which is considered overweight. "In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI) and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives".

And Tom Yates, the physical activity professor at Leicester who's behind the latest study, has been publishing findings on this connection for years.

"In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI), and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives".

"Most of these studies reported the beneficial effect of fitness in terms of relative risk reduction, for example 20 percent reduction of risk of death. Relative estimates, though, are hard to interpret", he said.

To answer the "fit vs fat" question, the team opted for walking pace because it is a "good measure of general fitness and overall physical function", according to Yates.

It is hardly the first study holding up walking speed as a powerful factor that appears to boost - and determine - our health.

The researchers, who studied 474,919 people, found that those with a fast walking pace had a longer life expectancy across all weight categories - from underweight to morbidly obese.

However, he cautioned as the study was observational it didn't show causation between walking and life expectancy.

In 2011, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study by geriatric medicine professor Stephanie Studenski, of the University of Pittsburgh, who found the same: walking speed was a reliable predictor of life expectancy. You can do so by increasing the frequency of your steps or increasing the length of them.

"Therefore, a key message is that people should be conscious of their walking pace, and slow walkers should try and walk faster".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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