Next time you’re out for a leisurely stroll, it might be time to pick up the pace — recent studies show that walking faster can help you live longer.
“We’re able to show that a person’s capacity to move strongly reflects vitality and health,” says Dr. Stephanie Studenski of the University of Pittsburgh. She and her team of researchers analyzed results from studies on nearly 35,000 senior citizens and determined that older adults who walked at a pace of one meter per second — about 3.6 kph or 2.5 mph — consistently outlived their peers.
While there’s no doubt regular exercise in the form of a brisk walk can do wonders for your health, it’s not necessarily fair to assume that fast walking alone is causing people to live longer. It seems the ability to walk quickly is also an indication of a person’s health. “Going out and walking faster does not necessarily mean you will suddenly live longer. You still need to address the underlying health issues,” Studenski says. “When you think about it, a sick person would not have that certain spring in their steps. Therefore, it should not be surprising that walking speed can provide a simple glimpse into aging and health status.”
And while challenging yourself is generally a good thing, when it comes to walking and your health, it’s important to not push yourself further than your body wants to go: “Your body chooses the walking speed that is best for you, and that is your speed, your health indicator,” she adds.
Still, if you’re body is up for it, get walking — besides being good for your overall health, recent studies have found walking can help ward off dementia. It can also help you keep your weight under control.