Pick up your pace to boost life expectancy and heart health
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.