Walk Faster and You May Live Longer

Your morning stroll around the block or nightly walk with your dog gives you a dose of nature and keeps you active. But did you know that if you crank up your walking speed, you may even increase your odds of living longer? 

According to a Mayo Clinic study, those who walk at a brisk pace tend to live longer than those who stroll slowly. Brisk is defined by the researchers as at least 3 miles per hour, which you can measure by timing how long it takes you to walk a mile or about 100 steps a minute. 

Researchers studied nearly 475,000 people with ranging body mass indexes (BMI), from underweight to obese. Across all weight categories, brisk walkers had a longer life expectancy — ranging up to nearly 88 years for women and 87 years for men. Men and women who had a slow walking pace and were underweight had the lowest life expectancy at roughly 65 and 72 years, respectively. 

These findings suggest that your physical fitness may better predict your life expectancy than body mass index (BMI). 

If your pace of walking is on the slower side, you may want to consider increasing your speed. It may also be a good opportunity to look at your overall walking posture and technique to help you get the most out of those laps around the neighborhood.

woman walking outside

Consider these three tips: 

  1. Focus on better posture
    Stand up straight without an arch in your back, keeping your gaze ahead with your chin parallel to the ground. Try tightening your abdomen to your tailbone, while relaxing your shoulders. 
  2. Move your arms
    Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your body as they swing back and forth. Walk with your hands free by putting any items you need to carry in your pockets. 
  3. Accelerate your stride
    Step from heel to toe to allow yourself to push off your toe powerfully with each stride. Pick up the speed of your natural stride, rather than lengthening it. 

Regardless of speed, walking is an excellent activity for your health and it’s easy enough for almost anyone to do. Consider these tips to help you reap the benefits and if you can increase your speed, you may be able to add years to your life.