Wellbeing News: Fast walkers may live longer

When it comes to walking, we tend to fall staunchly into two camps: those of us who amble along at a leisurely pace with no sense of urgency and the agitated speedy striders whose sighs are audible when they get stuck behind slow walkers with no chance of overtaking. In good news for quick walkers, a new study finds a link between brisk walking and a reduced risk of dying prematurely or from cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that older participants who increased their walking speed were at lower risk of an early demise. It’s thought that for those of us who are older or who perhaps don’t get as much physical activity as we should, our aerobic fitness levels are lower. In relative terms, this means that just walking a little faster is the equivalent to carrying out higher intensity exercise, which maintains better heart function and promotes good health. Simple. A healthy, brisk speed to aim for is around three to four miles per hour, though this depends on our fitness levels. Alternatively, aim to walk at a pace which causes slight breathlessness or sweating (just keep a bottle of our favourite cooling spray and a good deodorant to hand).

So much emphasis is placed on increasing the number of steps we take or the duration we walk for, so this may be just the news we need. Walking with greater speed and purpose certainly sounds more feasible than hot-footing it up and down stairs in a painful attempt to make up 10,000 steps on our fitness trackers.

For life’s dawdlers, it can be tricky to get into the mindset of our fast-paced friends, but there are some simple steps we can take (sorry!) to ramp up the speed:

Dancing queen

Make an upbeat playlist to move in time to when out walking alone (ABBA is one of Liz’s favourites – it’s difficult to dawdle to ‘Mama Mia’!).

An arm and a leg

Carry your shopping in a rucksack rather than lugging it around on your forearms. This will free up your arms to get them involved (as well as help protect your back). Adding arm movement while walking will really help to up your pace. Reach out with the opposite hand to your forward foot as though you are going in for a handshake to keep a balanced stride.

On your Apps, get set, go!

Try to beat your map app. If the app insists it will take 25 minutes to walk somewhere, try to get there in 20.

The health benefits of walking from Liz Earle WellbeingLoved this? Read on here:

Find out more about the health benefits of walking here.

Want to start running? Read Liz’s beginners’ guide here.