By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
Want to prolong your life? Put some pep in your step.
Walking at an average pace was linked to a 20% reduction in the risk of mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24%, according to a new study. A similar result was found for risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
It’s not too late to start. In fact, the benefits were far more dramatic for older walkers. Average pace walkers aged 60 years or over experienced a 46% reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and fast pace walkers a 53% risk reduction, the study found.
The findings appear in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine dedicated to walking and health, edited by Emmanuel Stamatakis, a professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health.
Also see: How to stay physically active for life
“A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometers per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels,” Stamatakis said in a statement. He has another suggestion to increase your heart rate: “Walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained.”
The study was a collaboration between the Universities of Sydney, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Limerick and Ulster. The researchers linked mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 in which participants reported their walking pace.
A recent Harvard University study concluded that you could add 10 years to your life by following five habits: eating a healthy diet, exercising 30 minutes or more a day, maintaining a healthy weight — a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 — never smoking and drinking only a moderate amount of alcohol.
In that study, the researchers analyzed 34 years of data from approximately 78,000 women and 27 years of data from more than 44,000 men. The authors predicted that women who adopted these five habits would see 14 more years of life, and men would add 12 years.
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