Pick up your pace to boost life ex­pectancy and heart health

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - UPDATE -

WALK­ING at a brisk or fast pace is as­so­ci­ated with a 24pc risk re­duc­tion for all-cause mor­tal­ity, com­pared with walk­ing at a slow pace.

While a sim­i­lar re­sult was found for risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease mor­tal­ity, with a re­duc­tion of 21pc walk­ing at a brisk or fast pace, com­pared to walk­ing at a slow pace.

The pro­tec­tive ef­fects of walk­ing pace were also found to be more pro­nounced in older age groups. Fast pace walk­ers aged 60 years or over ex­pe­ri­enced a 53pc re­duc­tion in risk of death from car­dio­vas­cu­lar causes.

The find­ings ap­pear in a spe­cial is­sue of the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Sports Medicine ded­i­cated to walk­ing and health, co-edited by Marie Mur­phy, professor of ex­er­cise and health at Ul­ster Univer­sity.

Prof Mur­phy said:“We all know that walk­ing is ben­e­fi­cial to our health and this spe­cial edi­tion pro­vides some of the lat­est re­search to back this up. One of these pa­pers sum­marises a study of over 50,000 walk­ers and fo­cuses on the spe­cific role of walk­ing pace. The re­sults in­di­cate that in­creas­ing our walk­ing pace could be a sim­ple way for peo­ple to im­prove their heart health and risk of pre­ma­ture mor­tal­ity.

“Walk­ing is al­ready pro­moted as a cor­ner­stone of health pro­mo­tion but we be­lieve this in­for­ma­tion on walk­ing pace should be em­pha­sised in pub­lic health cam­paigns to en­cour­age peo­ple to in­cor­po­rate a briskpaced walk into their ev­ery­day lives. Even if you only have a lit­tle free time, up­ping the speed of your walk and in­creas­ing your heart rate will im­prove your health.”

A fast pace is gen­er­ally five to six kilo­me­tres per hour, but it re­ally de­pends on a walker’s fit­ness lev­els; an al­ter­na­tive in­di­ca­tor is to walk at a pace that makes you warmer, slightly out of breath or sweaty when sus­tained. The team is call­ing for walk­ing pace to be em­pha­sised in pub­lic health mes­sages.

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