Can the pace of walking indicate the longevity of a person? A new study suggests those who walk faster may live longer, regardless of their body weight. Incidentally, the level of fitness of an individual is normally reflected in the pace, with which he/she walks, rather than in the body mass index (BMI).
The study, published in the journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, involved examining the data of 474,919 people, participated in the U.K. Biobank study between 2006 and 2016. The participants were asked to identify their normal walking pace among three categories — slow, steady/average or brisk. At the same time, the participants’ BMI, waist circumference, and body-fat percentage were measured. On average, the participants were found overweight with a BMI of 26.7 for 58.2 years of age.
The study found those walked briskly had longer life expectancies than those with slower walking paces regardless of their BMI. At the same time those who moved slowly had lower life expectancies, even with a BMI of less than 20. The gap in the life expectancies in the two groups was more than 10 years for both men and women.
“Brisk walkers were found to have longer life expectancies, which was constant across different levels and indices of adiposity,” the researchers said.
“While there are likely to be multiple factors contributing to the strength of our findings, it is well established that increasing your fitness is one of the best things you can do for your health. Increasing your walking pace in everyday life is a good way to increase fitness levels, particularly in those who are slow walkers,” says, Tom Yates, the lead author and professor of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Health at the University of Leicester
However, further studies are recommended to find out if boosting fitness can improve life expectancies in “high-risk” slowest paced low BMI people, and if walking pace could predict risk of disease in an individual.