Walking is the ultimate primal exercise. It’s part of what makes humans unique as a species. We are the only mammals that walk on two legs (although some apes do it occasionally).1
It is perhaps the world’s simplest and easiest form of exercise. It requires no training or special equipment. And studies have long shown it is one of the best ways to improve your health.
Now, new research has found that if you walk a certain way, you will live longer.
Scientists from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health examined the longevity benefits walking. They linked mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008.
The participants self-reported their walking pace as slow, medium, or fast.
Researchers then adjusted for factors such as total amount and intensity of all physical activity, age, sex, and body mass index.
They discovered that people who walk at an average pace have a 20% lower risk of death from any cause than those who walk slow. Fast walkers have a death risk reduction of 24%.2
The scientists found that the protective effects of walking faster were especially effective in helping older people avoid heart disease.
Average-pace walkers over 60 were 46% less likely to die from heart problems. Fast-pace walkers were even better off with a 53% reduction.3
The study was published in a British Journal of Sports Medicine.
How Fast Is Fast Enough?
Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis led the study. “A fast pace is generally 5 to 7 kilometers per hour (3-4 miles per hour),” he said. “An alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained.”
You can track your walking speed with a fitness app. Many are free on your phone, such as Map My Walk. It will also track your route, allow you to see the elapsed time, distance, and calories burned.4
Or you can invest in a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or numerous other fitness trackers that will do the same things and more.
If you’re not a gadget person, simply walk at a speed that makes you slightly out of breath. If you break a sweat, that’s a good sign.
And remember… The faster you walk, the slower you age.
Editor’s Note: If you’re worried about getting older, recent studies show that the symptoms of aging are just like any others. They can be treated or eliminated.
Go here to discover specific ways you can stop the clock – and even turn it back.