But did you know that your walking speed can be used as an effective predictor of longevity?
A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that walking speed was a consistent predictor of survival length across age, race and height categories (This study was in people older than 65).
Another study from the Mayo Clinic followed over 470,000 people and found that brisk walkers were found to have longer life expectancies across all levels of BMI, compared to slow walkers.
So, how could walking speed be used as an indicator of life expectancy?
Stephanie Studenski, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and co-author of one of the studies above, summed it up well. She said that most people have a “stable preferred walking speed” and that “your body sort of self-selects your walking speed that best accommodates all of the systems that are needed to walk”.
These systems include the nervous system, the muscular system, the skeletal system, the circulatory system, and the respiratory system, and that is why walking speed, can be a good indicator of overall body function.
So, what next? what should you do with this information?
The way I see it, if you can walk comfortably at a good pace, GREAT, keep it up. It may help you live longer.
If however, you have noted that you are starting to slow down or you can’t walk as easily as you could in the past, it may be time to look at it more closely and find out why you are slowing down. Is it something that could be easily fixed?
Is it a balance problem? Is it a joint restriction problem? (Both are things chiropractic care could help) or is it something else?
Even though a lot of the research on walking speed is based on the older generation, I think it still applies to people of all ages. If you are struggling to walk comfortably at any age, you need to get it addressed. Fixing problems early on can make a big difference in the years to come and your body really will thank you for it.
- Zaccardi et al, 2019. Comparative Relevance of Physical Fitness and Adiposity on life expectancy. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.