Walk this way to live up to 15 years longer

There are a lot of factors that go into determining how long you might live.

From gender and genetics to marital and socioeconomic status — and of course chronic health conditions — there are many things that dictate your longevity.

But, did you know that your walking speed has now been proven to be a huge factor as well?

Yup, two large scientific studies have found that the speed at which you put one foot in front of the other could either cut your life short — or boost it by about 15 years…

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Walk this way to increase your risk of heart disease and death

Last year, a team of researchers at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre found that people who are slow walkers are at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.

In fact, the study, which used data from the UK Biobank, showed that slow walkers were twice as likely to have a heart-related death as fast walkers, even when other risk factors such as smoking and body mass index were taken into account.

That’s right… being a slow walker alone could double your risk of death from heart problems.

But what happens if you can speed it up?

Walk this way to live longer healthier

The same team of scientists, using data from the UK Biobank of 474,919 people, found that those who regularly walk at a faster pace also have a longer life expectancy than slow walkers.

Women who walked briskly had a life expectancy of 86.7 to 87.8 years old, whereas women who walked at a slower pace had a life expectancy of 72.4. Men’s’ life expectancy dropped even lower; from 85.2 to 86.8 years at a fast pace to just 64.8 for slow walkers.

The really great news was that the increase in life expectancy held true regardless of weight for fast walkers — in fact, the group with the shortest life expectancy of all were underweight slow walkers.

Professor Tom Yates, professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester and a lead author of the study, said, “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.”

So, once again, this massive study confirmed that your walking speed matters.

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How to boost your walking speed

Luckily, how fast you walk is something that you can change, so even if you fall into the “slow walker” category, it’s not too late to do something about it.

Here are tips to increase your walking speed to live longer:

  1. Focus on posture – Keeping a good posture allows you to breathe more deeply and walk more quickly without pain in your back, hips, and knees. Head up, body straight, and eyes looking straight ahead of you is key.
  2. Take short steps – You may think that a longer stride is the key to increasing your pace but the truth is short steps win when it comes to walking speed.
  3. Use your arms – Bend your arms at 90 degrees, keep your elbows close to your body, and swing them as you walk.
  4. Push off – As you walk, your rear foot should stay on the ground behind you so that you’re able to push off with your toes and propel yourself forward.
  5. Don’t forget your core and glutes – When you’re walking, you should keep your core and glutes engaged to build strength.
  6. Walk faster than 2 mph – A study from 2011 calculated the Grim Reaper’s walking speed at about 2 miles per hour. That means you need to do better than that to outrun him.

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  1. 9 factors that affect longevity — ThinkAdvisor
  2. Faster walkers more likely to live longer — EurekAlert!
  3. 5 Tips to Becoming a Faster Walker — AARP
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.