A new study published by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia concluded that the faster older people walk, the more protection they have from all-cause mortality. Simply put, the ones who walk the fastest live the longest.
The study revealed that walking at a normal or average speed led to a 20 percent reduction in risk for mortality compared to walking slowly. But even more interesting was the finding that walking at a fast or brisk page protected against death by 24 percent. In addition, the study found that the effect is more pronounced the older the participant.
The results of the study were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which published a special addition dedicated to Walking and Health. The lead author of the study, Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis was also the editor of the journal.
“A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometers 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,” 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,” Professor Stamatakis said.
“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,” Professor Stamatakis added.
“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.
“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.”
As a result of the study the researchers are asking that the importance of the pace of walking be discussed and emphasized to the older population along with the basic discussion of exercise in general.