Getting your legs off the ground is one of the first milestones you’re praised for. It’s the act that separates us from all other creatures on the planet because it’s so energy efficient. Less energy burned means you have oomph for other things. And if there’s one thing that unites all humans – be they left wing, right wing, no wing – it’s the terrifying nightmare of being chased by something and only being able to walk away in slow motion. Okay, so that may only be in dream land, but we’re born to move. We’re terrified if we can’t do it, for good reason. The pace at which you take yourself from A to B can have a massive impact on your longevity. This is what you need to know.
Tortoise and the hare
Slow and steady wins the race. That may be true in children’s books, but it holds no water in the real world. A paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at the walking speeds of 50, 000 people. They found those who had the fastest pace also have the lowest risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. That means if you get to your destination faster, you are at a lower risk of dying from pretty much everything.
Those are serious odds worth considering. The protective effects of faster walking got higher; the older people got. If you maintain the muscle power to get moving at a higher-than-average pace, then you’re doing something right and your body will applaud you for your efforts of staying strong. The golden pace? That’s roughly 5-7 kilometers per hour. Plug that into your fitness tracker and try to hit it, even when you’re just cruising around the office or your house.
Walking is great but it’s even better when you’re doing it outside in a natural environment. That said, it can be a little boring if you’re alone, so what about doing it with a partner? Well, if you walk with someone, you better make sure they’re not slowing you down. A paper in the journal Gait & Posture found people who walk with someone else could have some of the health benefits neutralized if that person was much slower than they were at walking. If you walk with your wife or husband, it’s better to push the pace and get through your training session a little faster. You tend to walk slower as you get older, despite having less time lefts on their life roster. If you start to rush your day, you’ll both be better for it. Think of it as marriage counseling for longevity
If you need an incentive to get moving faster, then consider this study in the International Journal of Obesity. They found people who walked slower were four times more likely to die from COVID. Okay, so obviously obese and older people are at a higher risk but using walking speed as a metric can make it obvious if your body is not up to speed. Get moving, even if it’s from your car to the store. It will yield serious long-term benefits that will help you in the long run.