Rejoice, my fellow fast walkers.
New research from the University of Sydney suggests our habit may help us live substantially longer than our slow-moving counterparts.
The findings, which were published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, focused on the connection between walking pace, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality. From ScienceDaily:
Walking at an average pace was found to be associated with a 20 percent risk reduction for all-cause mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24 percent. A similar result was found for risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, with a reduction of 24 percent walking at an average pace and 21 percent walking at a brisk or fast pace, compared to walking at a slow pace.
The study utilized health data of 50,000 English and Scottish adults, including their self-reported walking speed. Participants designated themselves as either “slow,” “average,” “fairly brisk” or “fast” walkers. The researchers observed the subjects for nine years before compiling these findings.
“A fast pace is generally five to seven 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,” Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, the lead author on the study, explains.
The researchers believe that in light of these findings, walking pace should play a greater role in public health messaging. Particularly for people who don’t get the chance to walk long distances throughout the day, increasing your walking pace could help you get the most out of a short stroll. Extending the average life expectancy and decreasing the amount of slow walkers clogging up the sidewalks? Sounds like a win-win to me.