There are two types of walkers out there: the ones who like to take life one slow stroll at a time, and others who speed-walk everywhere they go as if they’re running late to an appointment (Think: New Yorkers). It turns out the latter may have a significantly higher life expectancy.
A recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that people who walk fast may be adding 15 to 20 years to their lives. The U.K.-based study looked at approximately 475,000 people with an average age of 52. According to the study, self-reported brisk-walkers have similar or longer life expectancies across all levels of body weight and obesity status – from underweight to morbidly obese.
“Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on life expectancy of individuals,” lead author and University of Leicester professor Tom Yates said in a statement. “In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI), and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”
You’ve probably heard that eating fruits and veggies, getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water are the essentials of healthy living. But physical activity, even in the simple form of walking, plays an important (if not, the most important) role on overall health.
The study found that slow walkers had a life expectancy of 72.4 years for women and 64.8 years for men. On the other hand, the people who reported taking brisk walks regularly had a life expectancy of about 87 years in women and about 86 years in men.
“When done correctly and consistently, walking is a simple, free and enjoyable form of exercise,” said Gareth Nock, national team training coach with Goodlife Fitness, in an interview with Global News. “It promotes overall health and well-being by improving cardiovascular fitness, strengthening the muscles of the whole body and also helps us maintain energy balance.”