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Not all activity is equal: The health benefits of fast walking

A recent study investigated the health benefits of fast walking, finding that risk of heart disease decreases with increased walking speed.

It is widely known that maintaining an active lifestyle is beneficial for overall health, and may help increase life span. However, does the pace of activity have any implications on health? According to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, there are health benefits of fast walking versus slow walking.

Health benefits of fast walking are independent of BMI

Researchers at the National Institute for Health Research retrieved data from the UK Biobank on individuals’ walking pace, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). The researchers found that walking quickly was associated with a longer life expectancy. Interestingly, this finding was true regardless of BMI and waist circumference. Overall, the shortest life expectancy was linked to slow walkers who were classified as underweight. One of the lead authors for this study, Professor Tom Yates, previously investigated the association between heart disease and walking pace and found the risk of disease decreased with increased walking speed. This new information suggests BMI may not be the optimal measure to predict life expectancy, so individuals looking to increase their lifespan should try fast walking.

Written by Monica Naatey-Ahumah, BSc

Reference: National Institute for Health Research. (2019, May 15). Faster walkers more likely to live longer [News release]. Retrieved from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-05/nifh-fwm051519.php

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