Walking Speed Could Indicate Life Expectancy


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  77 comments   :  32,803 Views

I've never been someone who likes to walk for exercise, mostly because I'm so slow. I'm amazed at people who race walk, since I'm convinced I'd have to break into a jog before I could ever walk that fast. I hope that's not a bad indication of my life expectancy according to new research, which claims the walking speed of older adults could determine how long they live.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that those who walked one meter per second (about 2.25 mph) or faster lived longer than others of the same age and sex. Those who walked 0.8 meters per second (or 1.8 mph) had an average life expectancy, compared with those who walked faster. This was especially true for older adults over age 75. "The findings were based on analysis of nine previous studies that examined the walking speed, sex, age, body mass index, medical history and survival rate of almost 34,500 people."

"The researchers showed they could reliably predict the 10-year survival rate of a group of people based on how fast they walked along a 4-meter track. This suggests that for older people, walking speed could be a sort of "vital sign," like blood pressure and heart rate, they said."

The goal of the study was not to encourage people to walk faster so that they would live longer. Rather, their speed was more of an indicator of their overall health status. If you're in good health, you're able to do more, move more, and consequently, can be expected to live longer. This could be a good way for people to gauge their own health, as well as a way for doctors to gauge the independence level of their older patients.

What do you think?

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  • 77
    Walking makes on the difference to make us healthy. But when you run and walk in a pace in your daily exercise, you can make your health more healthier.

    I LIKE the article but it needs more research. - 4/6/2015   6:51:05 AM
  • 76
    Yet another awful study with poor control of variables and erroneous conclusions. I am 5'2" and have fibromyalgia so what applies to me will not be applicable to someone even a couple of inches taller or shorter or in various states of health. I wish people would check on research methods and the errors within studies before posting nonsense like this which appears so often. - 2/13/2011   9:36:45 AM
    If you would like more information on racewalking, check out two books from racewalkclinic.com, they are: Race Walk Faster by training smarter, and Race Walk Clinic in a book. - 2/3/2011   10:30:38 PM
  • 74
    I never heard of something like this. I hike with the fastest members of our Wednesday Walkabouts. I'm going to keep it up! - 2/2/2011   10:34:36 AM
  • 73
    I have long legs and my stride is much longer than my sister's who is 4 inches shorter tan me. My 4 year old also cannot walk as fast as I do. I agree with the comment that questions why height or at least stride length does not work into the equation. I also wonder if people who are on the feet all day tend to walk at a slower steady pace because it is for a long duration and not a short period of exercise. - 2/2/2011   10:01:38 AM
  • 72
    I don't buy it. To determine overall health and life expectancy on walking speed is just bull. I was taught at a fairly early age to modulate my strides/posture/etc so that my speed in walking has picked up quite a bit. I am not the healthiest person around yet I tend to be one of the fastest (in natural walking speed, that is) and many people that I know are in excellent health but are unable to keep up. There are too many hidden variables to take into account for the study to be accurate. - 2/1/2011   11:18:21 AM
  • 71
    I dont agree with this article my husband has type 2 diabetties high blood pressure no feeling in his legs and works way faster than the normal person and always has - 2/1/2011   4:16:25 AM
  • 70
    A very interesting read.
    I am a senior 63 yrs my partner is 68 yrs. we both walk 3 klms every day and some days it is 6 klms at a fairly fast rate - 1/31/2011   5:48:34 PM
    I have always been a fast walked and being tall definitely helps! My boyfriend always laughs at me when I go for a walk claiming that my definition of a "walk" is really a "hike" and when I go for a "hike" it's just short of a marathon. I hope I can keep that up for several more decades! - 1/31/2011   10:53:30 AM
  • 68
    You know what? Like nike says - Just do it! Your allready doing better than those who don't walk at all. - 1/31/2011   8:23:54 AM
  • 67
    This is my personal opinion of this article; I think this research needs more studies before making such statements. Every person is not the same and using the examples they use doen't apply to all people. This article is a insult and I don't believe in scare tactics, God makes that decision not man. Thank you very much. - 1/31/2011   12:39:04 AM
  • 4ROSES4
    on the treadmill i move at 3mph on ground I might go 1.5. It is all in how I feel. - 1/30/2011   1:41:20 PM
    My father's mother was bed ridden for 10 years and lived to be 101. My mom's mother walked a lot but not fast. She lived to be 99. I think it's a combination of everything. - 1/30/2011   12:41:12 PM
  • 64
    Sometimes I'm slow - sometimes I'm fast. Depends on mood, sleep, and whether I'm walking with anyone. - 1/30/2011   10:50:20 AM
  • __IZZA__
    Yeah I don't get how height cannot be a factor in this. People with longer legs take longer steps, don't they? A BS study in my opinion. - 1/30/2011   9:47:57 AM
  • 62
    I have always been a fast walker mainly because I've been a waitress a good many years and I've always been mainlly a healthier person than my other workers. For being 61 I'm really healthy and feel I can live a long time. - 1/30/2011   8:24:36 AM
    The faster my home care clients walk, the more likely they are to fall and hurt themselves, leading to incapacitation, and to increased money being spent to care for these people. We tell them to SLOW down, to protect themselves. And as another poster said, her dad has Alzheimer's and walk a great deal around the nursing home. And they do, they walk and walk and walk....but the brain connection isn't there and they aren't doing it for the health benefits. - 1/30/2011   7:34:44 AM
  • LORTHOM2001
    i never measured my speed or whatever else, but all i know is that i am a walker...Lord, I can walkand walk and walk and walk...my mother and i. I think we are nomads or something (but i love that).

    someone (idiotic one i must say) saw me walking one day along the street and stopped to ask me if i am "ok" or if i do not have money to take public transport she could give me some. i was like...no thanks, walking is better any day! - 1/30/2011   4:30:10 AM
  • 59
    I dont buy it. When my Dad was in the nursing home DYING of Alzheimer's when he walked he went like HELL- you're NOT going to tell me that that was an indication of a long lifespan. - 1/30/2011   1:36:37 AM
  • 58
    I find it depressing - I'm the slowest walker I know, averaging 1 mph. But I'm walking, farther weekly than many who walk much faster. A friend who power-walks to work most days had a heart attack last week & now sports 2 new stents inside. We need to remember we are not statistics, but individuals. I have OA & RA issues that slow me down. They have not stopped me. I hope to become the healthiest me I can be, and walk far, for a long time, probably still pretty slow. God Bless us all. - 1/30/2011   12:58:41 AM
  • 57
    I read this article and I just can not agree with it. In one of the last paragraphs, it said the purpose of the article was not to get people to walk faster, but to know that it was a indicator of the persons overall health. that , from some peoples reading may frighten them, since they don't or can't walk fast. The article does not take into considerations like bad hips, or or other leg disabilities , that in themselves are in good health, a bad hip isn't poor health. So, after all these years of encouraging people to walk, do 10, 000 steps, we are going to let them know that slow walking is a indicator of poor health. I broke a ankle 10 years ago and can't walk as fast as I use, On an average day I walk 8.4 miles and depending on who I walk with, sometimes very slow. I am 71 and have released 84+ pounds and feel better than I ever have. I will complete a 4,063 mile virtual walk across America tomorrow. There are hundreds of people over 65 living in my commun ity that walk, it may look leasurely but they are walking, and then along comes a article that says that their slow walking could be a indicator of poor health.This article could frighten more people than it helps and I wish there was a way it could deleted - 1/30/2011   12:44:31 AM
  • 56
    Guess I'm going to have to start walking faster! - 1/30/2011   12:18:19 AM
    Good Grief... have a tad of difficulty digesting that... my mum is obese.. has had 9 op's on her back, 4 on her knee...shoulder is cactus etc rah rah rah on & on with pills & ailments... chuffs along at 0 miles per hour.. & 79 years young... & still going strong.
    May she continue for a while yet... at 0 miles an hour...
    - 1/29/2011   8:42:14 PM
  • 54
    I 'm 71, and walk really fast, but when I walk with my husband, I have to watch myself to walk in slow motion. He's 74, but has had some ill health. I can walk for 2 hours at a time, but he's lucky if he can walk 10 minutes. I go on 20 mile bike rides, and I'm going to keep on like I'm doing for a long, long time. - 1/29/2011   7:18:33 PM
    Holy cow! If this is true, my mother will NEVER DIE...and I'll be widowed within a few years! - 1/29/2011   6:57:16 PM
    What about some disabled people who will never be able to walk quickly, yet live long lives? I think articles like this are unhelpful and short-sighted; many factors enter into the complex equation of longevity. - 1/29/2011   6:54:37 PM
    Oh, geez. Another horror story. I don't know if I believe any of this study. - 1/29/2011   5:52:10 PM
  • 50
    I'm short ... 3 MPH is my fast ... so in great shape looks like ... yippee - 1/29/2011   5:34:05 PM
  • 49
    My mom was not a fast walker as she had short legs and hardly walked for exercise. She lived to be 86 and had diabetes the last 30 years of her life. Not everything fits everyone. - 1/29/2011   5:31:52 PM
  • 48
    Hmm. Not sure what to think. My walking speed depends in part on who I'm with because being short does make it harder sometimes to keep up with certain others. - 1/29/2011   5:22:00 PM
  • 47
    I think walking 0.0 makes the slowest walker look good. - 1/29/2011   12:41:36 PM
  • 46
    I think as long as your moving you're doing yourself a huge favour. I walk and jog at intervals or jog continuously depending on my mood. - 1/29/2011   11:57:22 AM
  • BECKA4642
    I have a hard time finding the time to read the paper everyday. The tread mill is boaring & troucher to me. I use my time on the treadmill to read my paper. The next thing I know my 30-60mins are up & I have walked 1.5-3+ miles & don't even notice it. - 1/29/2011   11:38:20 AM
    I think it partly depends on how long your legs are. Many of my friends tell me to slow down when I am walking with them, but it is mostly because they are shorter than I am and their legs are shorter. I do tend to walk fast when I am by myself, and even faster when my dog is pulling me. (Her legs are much shorter though - Does that shoot my theory full of holes?) - 1/29/2011   11:17:15 AM
  • 43
    When I exercise walk, I try to set a good pace; otherwise I don't think about it. However, I do think too many variables enter in to take this too much to heart. - 1/29/2011   11:08:29 AM
  • 42
    Brilliant news. My ex-husband couldn't keep up with me until I was 8 months pregnant lol! My current partner and I get everywhere rather faster, and TOGETHER!!!!! My 10 year old daughter is learning to play catch-up!
    - 1/29/2011   10:27:03 AM
  • 41
    Great news for me too. I drive them nuts at work walking back and forth in my area when I'm not busy. With a limited range it averages out at a 19 minute mile. On the treadmill I walk 4 mph with intervals of 5 mph or a little better. The only time I slow down some is trail hiking at the State Parks - rocks and roots in the path and nature that needs to be enjoyed. - 1/29/2011   10:23:38 AM
  • 40
    What!! try to make a study of people 75 years old applicable to other folks? And with no indicators of what might influence walking speed, such as stride length? I think this is pseudoscience. - 1/29/2011   10:20:35 AM
    CINDIDIT is right. The article is about how fast a person usually walks, not the speed they reach when walking for exercise. I'm like MARTINIGAL413--my normal walking speed is 3.5-3.8. When I'm working on cardio, I usually do intervals between 4.3 and 5.0. But it was walking to the library with my grandfather on Saturday mornings when I was a tyke that taught me to move my legs quickly. It was a matter of keeping up or going alone. So thanks, Grampa, you got me started with a good habit! If you have kids or grandkids, get them to walk at your speed instead of slowing down to theirs. It works. - 1/29/2011   9:27:05 AM
    I like taking long walks outdoors partly for the exercise at the local beaches and hiking trails. - 1/29/2011   9:18:50 AM
    I am 5'4", & 65 years old, and walk 3.8 miles per hour when I'm not in a hurry!!! - 1/29/2011   8:42:39 AM
  • 36
    It sounds like the study is talking about how fast you usually walk, not how fast you can walk. I like to stroll. When on the treadmil 3 mph is my comfort spot, 3.5 is my almost jog. But when thinking of older people I know or have known, the slower walkers usually were slow to catch their breath, so that makes sense. - 1/29/2011   6:39:56 AM
  • 35
    Cant a 6 foot person (as a general rule) keep a better pace than a 5 foot one just because they have a larger stride...? - 1/29/2011   6:31:59 AM
  • 34
    I was feeling pretty good about my activity level until I read this. I have overcome a lot of obstacles and have been getting a lot of walking in, but with my back injuries and issues--well, I am not fast. I think this information will go into my "interesting facts, but who cares?" file because I need to keep doing what I am doing. I may never walk quickly, but I am walking--no wheel chair, Hooray for me!! - 1/29/2011   6:10:45 AM
  • 33
    When I started school 56 years ago my dad walked me there and his motto was that he was not slowing down for me, I was to keep up with him. :) Consequently I have always been a fast walker with few walking mates that could keep up. Dad passed away 3 years ago at the age of 80 and was still playing golf and bowling! Pancreatitis slipped in and got him before the cancer did. - 1/29/2011   6:01:43 AM
  • 32
  • 31
    I think we all have a date when we are going to die,so it really does not matter.
    the main thing is to get up and walk.
    I used to walk fast until fell and stirred up arthritus, and I can't walk that fast anymore. But I do walk faster than some people I know. - 1/28/2011   11:22:44 PM
  • 30
    This may be true - but what if like me you can't walk much and shuffle, because of damaged leg joints!! Does that mean I'm about to leave this earth - I darned well hope not as I want to enjoy my life after all the work to lose weight!! - 1/28/2011   11:09:06 PM
  • 29
    Jack LaLanne, the GodFather of Fitness died this week at 96 from pneumonia. He walked or swam 30 minutes every single day, so I think exercise does pay off. Fast walking does mean you are in better shape. - 1/28/2011   7:05:25 PM
  • 28
    Are they walking faster so St Peter doesn't catch them?

    All joking aside,,,,I DO believe this cos my Nana walked VERY fast and lived to be 95 whereas my Grammy walked average and lived to be 81 with many health problems. Nana had NONE til she was 93 1/2 than she had a stroke. Hmmmm may I be a Nana ! - 1/28/2011   5:49:55 PM

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