Do you walk with a spring in your step or do you just trudge along? According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), how fast you walk could measure your life expectancy. The findings showed that those who walk approximately 2.25 miles per hour faster lived longer than those in their same sex and age category who walked slower.
The study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and looked at the relationship to the participants’ speed of mobility to their overall health. According to Dr. Stephanie Studenski, “We’re able to show that a person’s capacity to move strongly reflects vitality and health.” The purpose of the study wasn’t specifically to get people moving at a quicker pace, but merely looking at how their overall health is mirrored in their walking speed.
Studenski said, “Your body chooses the walking speed that is best for you, and that is your speed, your health indicator.” The key here is to deal with the health issues that could be slowing down your pace; for example, if obesity or a heart condition is slowing you down. Studenski warned, “Going out and walking faster does not mean you will suddenly live longer.”
As a personal trainer, I see a variety of people who are deconditioned and have not had consistent mobility for years. My observation is that they take longer to get from one point to the next. One of the first things I see as they both lose weight and improve their cardiovascular fitness level is a spring in their step. I also notice a change in mood for the better. My observations are supported by the scale dropping and a lower resting heart rate and not life expectancy as in the study. However, I also notice the improvement of overall health is often reflected in the observed walking pace.
The above-mentioned study also boasts accuracy in its findings for adults older than the age of 75; the measurement of their walking pace being a true indicator of vitality. The findings analyzed the results from several previous studies totaling 34,500 participants, looking at the measurements of body mass index (BMI), medical history and survival rate.