If you want to improve your chances of living longer, put more pep in your step.
That’s the gist of a new study involving nearly 475,000 people in the U.K. Researchers looked at how quickly or slowly people said they typically walked. They also considered the participants’ body mass index (BMI) and waist size. BMI is a way to estimate body fat, based on a person’s height and weight. Waist size is another way to tell if someone is at a healthy weight.
According to the findings, slower walkers had a shorter life expectancy than faster walkers—regardless of their BMI or waist size. In fact, underweight slow walkers had the lowest life expectancy of all: 64.8 years for men and 72.4 years for women.
What it means
Being at a healthy weight may still be important to your overall health. But the results of this study suggest that, at least when it comes to life expectancy, fitness may matter more than weight.
Whether walking slowly causes a shorter life span or is simply a sign of poorer health isn’t clear. But it seems as if picking up the pace may be good for your heart. In a previous study, researchers found that, among middle-aged people, slow walkers were twice as likely as fast walkers to die of a heart-related disease.
The current study appeared in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings .
Lace up your shoes
Walking is a simple and cheap way to exercise. And any amount of walking is better than not moving at all. Learn more about the benefits walking brings to your life. And check out ideas for getting started.