Stride into Longevity: The Surprising Link Between Your Walking Speed and Lifespan

If you’re someone who leisurely strolls down the street, now might be the time to speed up. Research indicates that slower walkers are more likely to have a shorter lifespan. An analysis of the health history of over 34,000 people aged 65 and older by the University of Pittsburgh revealed that those who walked faster had a longer life expectancy.

The Connection Between Walking Speed and Health

There are several reasons why walking speed may predict life expectancy, according to the researchers. Walking requires energy, movement control, and support, placing demands on multiple organ systems, including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. A slowing gait may indicate damage to these systems and a high energy cost of walking. In this study, it was found that those who walked slower than approximately 2 feet per second needed to start making sure their affairs were in order, having only time for a couple more walks.

How To Determine Your Walking Speed

So, how do you know if you’re walking fast enough to potentially increase your life expectancy? First, measure out 15 feet on a comfortable walking surface, such as a straight hallway or sidewalk. Then, use a stopwatch to time how long it takes you to walk the distance at your normal speed. A walking speed of 2 feet per second is equal to completing the 15-foot walk in 7.5 seconds. If you find that you’re consistently slower than this, consider increasing your walking pace on a regular basis.

The Benefits of Faster Walking

Research has revealed various benefits of walking at a faster pace. Studies show that faster walkers are more likely to maintain healthy body weight and lower body fat levels. Walking at a brisk pace can also help to improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of injury and maintaining overall physical function.

Additionally, walking at a faster pace can improve cardiovascular health. It has been proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation markers, which contribute to a longer and healthier life. Fast walking can also help increase lung capacity and improve oxygen exchange in the body, resulting in more energy and better health overall.

How to Increase Your Walking Speed

If you’re looking to increase your walking speed, consider incorporating the following strategies into your routine:

  1. Practice – Gradually increase the pace of your daily walks. Set a goal to walk 10% faster each week until you reach your desired speed.

  2. Warm-up – Stretching and warming up the muscles before walking can help to improve your flexibility and reduce the strain on your joints and muscles, which can make it easier to maintain a faster pace.

  3. Focus on posture – Proper posture can improve walking efficiency and speed. Stand tall, with your shoulders back, chest open, and chin parallel to the ground. Engage your core muscles and swing your arms naturally as you walk.

  4. Mind your stride – Avoid taking long strides, which can actually slow you down. Instead, focus on taking shorter, quicker steps to increase your pace.

  5. Supportive footwear – Choose walking shoes that provide good cushioning, support, and traction. This can help keep you comfortable and stable while walking at a faster pace.

  6. Interval training – Incorporate intervals of faster walking mixed with slower recovery periods into your routine. For example, walk briskly for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of slower walking, and repeat.

  7. Use a pedometer or fitness tracker – These devices can help you monitor your progress and encourage you to take more steps per day.

Long-lasting Benefits for Your Health

Making an effort to increase your walking speed not only has the potential to improve life expectancy but also offers numerous health benefits. Faster walking supports a healthy cardiovascular system, better lung capacity, improved balance and coordination, and a greater overall physical function. By incorporating the strategies listed above, you can gradually increase your walking speed and enjoy a healthier, more active life.