More than 50 people over the age of 000 who lived in Britain between 30 and 1994 took part. The researchers collected data on these people, including how fast they thought they walked, and then analyzed their health scores (after some control measures to make sure the results weren’t due to poor health or any habits). such as smoking and exercise).
It turned out that any pace of walking above the average gradually reduces the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease or stroke. Compared to slow walkers, people with an average walking pace had a 20% lower risk of dying early from any cause, and a 24% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or stroke.
Those who reported walking at a fast pace had a 24% lower risk of dying early from any cause and a 21% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
It was also found that the beneficial effects of a fast walking pace were more pronounced in older age groups. For example, people aged 60 and older who walked at an average pace had a 46% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, while those who walked fast had a 53% lower risk. Compared to slow walkers, fast walkers aged 45-59 have a 36% lower risk of early death from any cause.
All of these results suggest that walking at a moderate or brisk pace may be beneficial for long-term health and longevity compared to slow walking, especially for older adults.
But you also need to take into account that this study was observational, and it is impossible to completely control all the factors and prove that it was walking that had such a beneficial effect on health. For example, it could be that some people reported slow walking pace due to notoriously poor health and were more at risk of early death for the same reason.
To minimize the likelihood of this reverse causality, the researchers excluded all those who had cardiovascular disease and suffered a stroke or cancer at baseline, as well as those who died in the first two years of follow-up.
Another important point is that study participants self-reported their usual pace, which means that they described their perceived pace. There are no set standards for what “slow”, “medium”, or “fast” walking means in terms of speed. What is perceived as a “fast” pace of walking by a sedentary and trudging 70 year old will be very different from the perception of a 45 year old who moves a lot and keeps himself in shape.
In this regard, the results can be interpreted as reflecting the intensity of walking relative to the physical ability of an individual. That is, the more noticeable physical activity when walking, the better it will affect health.
For the average relatively healthy middle-aged population, a walking speed of 6 to 7,5 km/h will be brisk, and after a while of maintaining this pace, most people will begin to feel a little out of breath. Walking at 100 steps per minute is considered roughly equivalent to moderate-intensity physical activity.
Walking is known to be a great activity for maintaining health, accessible to most people of all ages. The results of the study confirm that moving to a pace that challenges our physiology and makes walking more like a workout is a good idea.
In addition to long-term health benefits, a faster pace of walking allows us to reach our destination faster and frees up time for other things that can make our day more fulfilling, like spending time with loved ones or reading a good book.