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Fast walkers have a longer life expectancy than slow walkers, according to a new study

Posted at 12:16 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-04 13:16:45-04

Being a brisk walker could help you live longer, according to a new study published in the Journal of Mayo Clinic Proceedings .

Almost 475,000 participants self-reported whether they consider themselves slow walkers or fast walkers. Doctors also looked at their respective body mass indexes (BMI).

The median age of those studied was 58.2 years old, and researchers followed up with them for an average of seven years.

The study found "brisk walkers were found to have longer life expectancies" of 86.7-87.8 years in women and 85.2-86.8 years in men, regardless of BMI.

"Subjects reporting slow walking pace had shorter life expectancies" the study concluded.

Those findings showed significantly shorter life expectancies of 72.4 years in women and 64.8 years in men who reported being both slow walkers and underweight.

Dr. Patrick Jost, an orthopedic surgeon at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital and Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, said he wasn't surprised by the study's findings considering the health benefits of physical activity like brisk walking.

"A body in motion stays in motion," Jost said. "Regular walking is an indicator of bone health and general cardiovascular health as well.

"People who are in better shape, that activity will protect bad bones and joints."

He recommended people suffering from arthritis or pain still do their best to work in 20 to 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity to avoid losing even more mobility.

"Regular exercise, especially walking, is a safe way to keep them moving and maintaining some flexibility and strength," Jost said.

But he noted the study's findings should not be taken as flawless.

Jost thinks many of the people deemed to be slow walkers probably reported themselves as such because they have other health issues, which would also impact life expectancy.

"They're saying that because there's a reason," he said. "Maybe chronic illness or mental health.

Jost added: "So if you're regularly going for a walk, you're motivated to do it, and you try to enjoy it. I think the pace is less important than the actual just doing of it."