Thursday, January 06, 2011

Fast walkers live longer according to study

If it's not one thing, it's another. Now I have something new to worry about. Just came accross a report indicating that the speed one walks could be an indicator of a short or long life span. Researchers have discovered that walking speed can be - notice those words - can be a useful indicator of how long older adults will live.

The first thing that sprung to mind is many older adults a.k.a. seniors, tend to walk slower than younger adults i.e. middle aged and under. People who walk 2.25mph or faster, consistently lived longer than others of their age and sex who walked more slowly.

The results of this study particularly hit home personally, being a slow-ish-type walker.

"We're able to show that a person's capacity to move strongly reflects vitality and health," said study researcher Dr. Stephanie Studenski, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

The researchers did emphasize that the aim of the study wasn't to get people to walk faster or to live longer. According to Dr. Stephanie. Our bodies tell us the ideal speed appropriate for us. Actually, my body especially the legs, knees, thighs and right on down to the ankles, tend to send my brain messages to the effect, "slow her down - you're killing us!"

Still more bad news we don't want to know in that a change of walking speed won't lengthen our lives. Dr. Stephanie suggests that we need to address underlying health issues. The researchers showed they could reliably predict the 10-year survival rate of a group of people based on how fast they walked along a 4-meter track.

Track? How many "average" people use a running track, one wonders. Walking speed for those with an average life expectancy was (or is) approx. 1.8 mph, for most age groups of both sexes. So this leads one - me - to wonder how one would assess one's walking speed. Is there some type of mathematical formula or does one have to carry a pedometer while walking to ensure the correct speed? Came accross a piece on the e-How site that provides a formula as to how to calculate walking speed:

The findings were based on analysis of nine previous studies that examined the walking speed, sex, age, body mass index, medical history and survival rate of almost 34,500 people.

There's a lot more statistics and information for anyone interested in the study here:

Still, when it all said and done, walking is a great exercise. For the record, it's amazing the speed my feet travel in a mall, travelling from store-to-store, whenever there's a sale. A person has'ta do what a person has'ta to.

The study is published in the January 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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