We’ve all heard the statistics on the health conditions that take COVID-19 from a worry to a nightmare.
If you’re over the age of 65, COVID-19 dangers are amplified.
If you’re living with heart disease or diabetes, your chances of dying if you get COVID-19 skyrocket.
Struggling with obesity?
You’re at higher risk of ending up with COVID-19 on your death certificate.
And now, there’s a new one that might surprise you…
Your walking speed.
Raising the risk of death by almost four times
Yes, you read that right.
According to a study out of the U.K., how fast you walk could reveal how high your risk is of a COVID-19 infection going severe or ending in death.
The study of over 412,000 middle-aged participants looked at two factors to compare them to the risk the virus poses — self-reported walking speed and body mass index or BMI.
Basically, what they were expecting was that weight would play the biggest role in the equation.
But the results were much different than the expectations.
In fact, the research showed that slow walkers of healthy weight were almost 2.5 times more likely to develop severe COVID-19 than fast walkers. And they were a frightening 3.75 times more likely to die from the virus than healthy weight fast walkers.
Here’s where it gets really interesting too…
Normal weight slow walkers were also found to be at higher risk for both severe COVID-19 and COVID-19 mortality than fast walkers with obesity.
In other words, walking speed counts more than weight in your Covid worries.
As lead researcher, Professor Tom Yates, from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, put it, “We know already that obesity and frailty are key risk factors for COVID-19 outcomes. This is the first study to show that slow walkers have a much higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19 outcomes, irrespective of their weight.”
The connection between walking speed and health
So what’s the connection?
Why would your walking speed matter when it comes to whether you can fight off the worst of COVID-19?
Well according to the scientists, it all comes down to good cardiovascular and heart health — which fast walkers have and slow don’t.
And they believe that being heart-healthy translates into resistance against the infection.
This means that if you want to win the battle against Covid, it’s time to get fit and get fast.
How to increase your walking speed
A few tips to take your speed up a notch include:
- Practice – Don’t expect to be able to walk fast or long right out of the gate. Set a daily goal in minutes and try to work up slowly. Even if you can only do five minutes initially, it’s five minutes more heart-healthy activity than you were getting previously.
- Use small steps – Faster walkers use smaller strides. So focus on being short and quick.
- Boost off – Use your toes to push off of the ground as you walk with your back foot to generate force and move yourself forward.
- Keep your head up – Posture matters in your walking speed. Keep your head up and your shoulders straight.
- Swing your arms – Bend your arms at the elbow and swing them as you walk to generate energy.
And be sure to keep track of your speed so that you can monitor your improvement over time. Four miles per hour makes a great goal for better health and wellbeing and therefore Covid resilience.
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Pick up the pace! – EurekAlert!