In a new study, researchers found that people walk fast may live longer than people who walk slowly.
On the other hand, people who report that they have a slower walking pace have a lower life expectancy than fast walkers.
The research was conducted by a team from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Previous studies have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk.
One study showed that middle-aged people who reported that they are slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.
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.
In the current study, the team used data from the UK Biobank of 474,919 people recruited within the UK.
They found those with a habitually fast walking pace have a long life expectancy across all levels of weight status—from underweight to morbidly obese.
On the contrary, underweight people with a slow walking pace had the lowest life expectancy (an average of 64.8 years for men, 72.4 years for women).
The team suggests that their findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on life expectancy.
The findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI).
They also suggest that brisk walking may add years to people’s lives.
This is the first study linking fast walking pace to a longer life expectancy regardless of a person’s body weight or obesity status.
The lead author of the study is Professor Tom Yates, professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester.
The study is published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
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