Walking Fast Can Slow Down Aging

Want to add 16 years to your life? A new study from the University of Leicester says it’s as simple as picking up the pace. Turns out, walking briskly might be the secret to aging gracefully.

Remarkably, engaging in brisk walking throughout one’s life contributes to elongated telomeres, the essential safeguarding “caps” situated at the extremities of our chromosomes. Comparable to the function of the plastic tips on shoelaces, telomeres ensure DNA stability without carrying any genetic data themselves. In order to estimate an individual’s biological age scientists examine the length of these protective caps, with longer telomeres indicating a younger biological profile.

A recent study encompassing 400,000 UK Biobank participants discovered a fascinating correlation. Those participants with a swifter walking tempo appeared biologically 16 years younger by midlife. Remarkably, it seems brisk walking alone, independent of other physical pursuits, contributes to the extension of telomeres – a key component in our biological age determination.

A fascinating cellular investigation reveals that each cellular division causes a progressive shortening of telomeres, leading to a halt in cell division when they become critically short. The accumulation of senescent (elderly and dying) cells contributes to age-related diseases and fragility, although the exact relationship with telomere length remains hazy. By harnessing genetic data and wearable activity trackers, this groundbreaking research solidifies the connection between brisk walking and increased telomere length. This emphasizes the power of habitual physical activity intensity in promoting cellular health.

For the first time, innovative research has emerged linking walking speed to genetic data correlated with extended lifespans. This intriguing discovery builds upon earlier studies that revealed the multifaceted advantages of walking, encompassing physical, mental, and social aspects. Previous investigations into the connection between walking pace, physical activity, and telomere length have faced limitations due to inconsistent results and insufficient data quality. This groundbreaking study prompts further scientific exploration in the field of human longevity.

The intriguing implication that a slower walking pace might indicate a higher risk of chronic illness and poor aging showcases the potential role of activity intensity in optimizing health interventions. To enhance overall well-being, people with higher capabilities could increase the steps they take within a given time frame. Previous studies from Leicester researchers highlight that an engaging ten minutes of brisk walking daily could extend life expectancy by up to two decades compared to those with a more leisurely pace.

The researchers in this investigation observed that there was no connection between a leisurely walking speed and diminishing telomere length. Although past findings have demonstrated that a brisk ambulation pace strongly correlates with an individual’s health condition, evidence that this pace inherently leads to improved health was lacking. By analyzing genetic data, this study revealed that maintaining a faster walking tempo could indeed contribute to a relatively youthful biological age, as indicated by telomere measurements.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Investigation of a UK biobank cohort reveals causal associations of self-reported walking pace with telomere length