Posts tagged walking tips

a woman brisk walking alongside a wall

Could walking faster mean living longer?

A study recently published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings has found that walking briskly could add 10-20 years to your life! The project was co-authored by Tom Yates, professor of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health at the University of Leicester and Dr. Francesco Zaccardi, clinical epidemiologist at the University of Leicester. 

The study lasted for over 10 years and included nearly 475,000 participants. Researchers wanted to see how different measures of physical fitness – specifically walking pace and hand grip strength – are associated with life expectancy, across different levels of obesity. This research area was chosen because there is ongoing debate about the importance of physical fitness and obesity on health outcomes. Researchers measured participant’s walking paces (slow, normal/steady, brisk/fast), hand grip strength and relative body weight using different measures of obesity including body mass index (BMI). Body Mass Index is the measure of body fat based on height and weight and is often used as a key indicator in determining an individual’s health.

Interestingly, the authors found that a person’s walking pace of slow, steady or brisk, was a more powerful predictor of one’s life expectancy than BMI was. Participants who reported having a brisk walking pace had a long-life expectancy, regardless of their BMI. Women’s life expectancy in this category ranged from 86.7 to 87.8 years and men ranged from 85.2 to 86.8 years. Individuals who reported slow walking paces had the slowest life expectancy with 72.4 years for women and 64.8 years for men.

“The findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than BMI and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives,” stated Yates.

It’s important to note that the study involved self-reported walking paces. It’s possible that there may be an inconsistency between what the researchers would define as slow, steady and brisk walking and what participants considered slow, steady or brisk walking. Nevertheless, this research serves as more scientific evidence for the power of walking!

In July of 2019, many news stations covered the fascinating findings from this study. In Globe and Mail’s coverage, Gareth Nock, national team training coach, provided readers with some “Proper Walking Tips”:

  • Wear the right shoes: Look for sneakers or walking shoes that are flexible and have a good level of support.
  • Watch your posture: Stand tall with your eyes up and your shoulders back. Many people tend to let their heads fall forward so focus on rolling your shoulders back and down and looking ahead. Focus on drawing your navel towards your spine (abdominals braced) to support your lower back and overall posture.
  • Swing your arms: Arms should swing naturally and loosely from the shoulders. Move the opposite arm to the leg that is stepping forward and keep your wrists straight, your hands unclenched and your elbows close to your sides.