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Walking at brisk pace is healthier

Walking at brisk pace is healthier
Just like other forms of physical exercise, walking is healthy. That's why walkers live longer than people with a sedentary lifestyle. The health effects of walking are even greater when people are usually walking at a brisk pace. This is evident from an epidemiological study that researchers at the University of Sydney published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers used data from more than fifty thousand British walkers, which were collected between between 1991 and 2009. The data were gathered from the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey. The participants had told how much they exercised, how fast they walked and pictured their lifestyle looked like. This enabled the researchers to statistically remove the effects of BMI, age, physical and mental health, smoking, alcohol and stress.

In the figures below, the mortality probability in the group that walks at a low pace is by definition 1. Especially in people who are older than 50 years, walking at a fast pace was healthier than walking at a slow pace.

Walking at brisk pace is healthier

Walking at brisk pace is healthier

This was mainly because walking at a brisk pace reduced the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease [CVD Mortality].

In the figure below, the researchers divided the study participants into a group that did not achieve the recommended daily amount of physical activity [Not Meeting PA Guidelines; left] and a group that did [Meeting PA Guidelines; right]. In both groups, walking was healthier as the pace was higher. Certainly in the group that wasn't getting enough physical activity, walking pace was an important factor.

Walking at brisk pace is healthier

"While sex and body mass index did not appear to influence outcomes, walking at an average or fast pace was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease", says first author Emmanuel Stamatakis in a press release. [ June 1, 2018]

"A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometres per hour, but it really depends on a walker's fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained."

"Especially in situations when walking more isn't possible due to time pressures or a less walking-friendly environment, walking faster may be a good option to get the heart rate up - one that most people can easily incorporate into their lives."

Br J Sports Med 2018;52:761-8.

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