Taking a nice walk at a fast pace is of great benefit to your health, so much so that it would gain 15 years of life compared to those who walk the streets comfortably. A new study found a significant difference in life expectancy related to walking speed, regardless of body weight. This is especially true for women.
This is the research conducted at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) of the Leicester Biomedical Research Center, where data from the British Biobank of nearly 500,000 people were analysed, discovering that those who walked faster had longer life expectancies and that faster walkers would have a lower body mass index (BMI), which is usually associated with better health.
In short, not only does walking fast reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer and is an excellent green method of slimming, but it is also an elixir of long life.
The research analysed data from 474,919 people with an average age of 52 in the UK between 2006 and 2016. The team found that, regardless of weight, those with a usually fast pace have a long life expectancy.
In particular, women who walked at a fast pace had a life expectancy of 86.7-87.8 years, while women who walked at a slower pace had a life expectancy of 72.4. For men, however, there was an expectation of 85.2 to 86.8 years for a fast pace and only 64.8 years for those who walked slowly. These results are also valid in cases where people are seriously overweight or obese.
Our findings suggest that fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index,” explained Professor Tom Yates of the University of Leicester and lead author of the study, “and that encouraging people to walk fast can add years to their lives.
This is the first time researchers have associated fast pace with longer life expectancy regardless of a person’s body weight or obesity status.
According to Francesco Zaccardi, clinical epidemiologist at the Leicester Diabetes Center and co-author of the study, “the studies published so far have shown mainly the impact of body weight and fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk, such as a 20% relative increase in the risk of death for every 5 kilograms per square meter of increase, compared to a reference value of a BMI of 25 kilograms per square meter (the BMI threshold between normal weight and overweight).
However, scholars conclude, it is not always easy to interpret a “relative risk”: the relationship in terms of life expectancy, on the contrary, is easier to interpret and gives a better idea of the importance of the body mass index and physical fitness.
This means that you have no more excuses and, if you really don’t have time to go to the gym between work and family commitments, it’s a good time to leave your car at home and trot on foot.