Walking Faster and Longevity

girl walking fast

Exercise is an important part of staying healthy and maintaining a high quality of life. Now a new study shows that picking up the pace by walking faster can add years to a person’s life! The article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that a fast or average speed of 3 to 4.5 mph cut the death risk by more than 20% over a 15 year period. The study conducted by the University of Sydney found that walkers who walked at a fast pace showed a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality.

More than 50,000 walkers were included in the analysis. A fast walking pace may just be an easy, straightforward way to improve the health of the heart and reduce the risk of premature mortality. Data showed that brisk or walking at a fast pace reduced all cause mortality by 24%. Similar results were reported for decrease in cardiovascular disease. And the older a person is the more profound the effects can be. The study showed that those aged 60 or older who walked at a steady pace reduced their risk of heart disease by 46%. However those who walked at a fast pace reduced their risk by 53%.

Interestingly, the top five habits shown to increase an individuals lifespan by more than a decade are:

*Exercising an average of 30 minutes per day
*Abstaining from smoking
*Maintaining a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9
*Limiting alcohol consumption to no more than 15 grams per day for women and 30 grams per day for men
*Eating a diet low in red meat, sugars, saturated fats and high in vegetables, fruits & whole foods.

Walking at 3 to 4.5 mph is suggested. Another indicator that the speed is good is walking at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath and sweaty when sustained. Here are other tips for walking faster:

Use good posture by walking tall and looking forward. Chin should be level and your head up!

Keep your chest raised and shoulders down, back & relaxed

Bend your arms at a slightly less than 90 degree angle. Cup your hands and swing arms front to back – do not swing them side to side. Swinging your arms faster will get your feet to follow!

Tighten your abs and buttocks by flattening your back and tilting your pelvis slightly forward

Pretend you are walking a straight line instead of elongating your steps work at taking smaller, faster steps

Push off with your toes and concentrate on landing on your heel. Use the natural spring of your calf muscles to propel you forward

Breath naturally by taking deep rhythmic breaths to get the maximum amount of oxygen through your system. Walk fast enough that your breathing is faster than normal but not such that you are completely out of breath.

And some DON’T’S for walking healthy:
Do not over stride
Do not use too vigorous arm movements
Do not look at the ground
Do not hunch your shoulders
Do not carry hand weights on wear ankle weights

To view the original scientific study click here: Self-rated walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50 225 walkers from 11 population British cohorts