People who walk faster could live longer – study

MANILA, Philippines – Researchers who analyzed the walking pace of more than 50,000 people found that walking at a faster pace could extend one's life.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, University of Limerick, and University of Ulster. Findings of the study appeared in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine on Friday, June 1. 

The researchers sought to determine the relationship between a person's walking pace with mortality risks from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and all other causes. 

"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," said Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney.

The study showed that those who walked at an average pace experienced a 20% reduction in mortality risks from all causes, while those who walked at a fast pace saw a risk reduction of 24%.

With regard to mortality risks from cardiovascular diseases, those who walked at an average pace saw mortality risk lowered by 24%, while those who walked at a fast pace saw it lowered by 21%.

The study, however, said "there was no evidence to suggest pace had a significant influence on cancer mortality."

Fast pace at around 5-7 km/h

Describing the speed of walking paces, Stamatakis said a fast pace would be around 5 to 7 kilometers per hour, depending on the person's fitness level. A good indicator would also be to walk at a pace that leaves you "slight out of breath or sweaty when sustained."

The study also found the results to be more pronounced in individuals 60 years old and above.

According to the study's results, those who walked at an average pace saw mortality risk from cardiovascular diseases lowered by 46%, while those who walked at a fast pace saw it lowered by 53%.

With the study's results, Statmatakis said walking faster should be emphasized as an easy way to improve one’s overall health.

"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," he said.

Findings from the study resulted from an analysis of mortality records linked to 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland from 1994 and 2008, wherein participants indicated their walking pace.

The research also adjusted "factors such as total amount and intensity of all physical activity taken, age, sex and body mass index." – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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