A recent study found that people who go faster may live longer than people who walk more slowly. The data was reported by nearly 475,000 people in the UK itself, showing that the longevity benefit of this increased physical activity persisted despite the person's body weight. The results emphasize the importance of adequate physical activity.
The research comes from the National Institute of Health Research – Leicester Biomedical Research Center, where researchers found a link between fast walking and prolonged life. The association existed across all levels of weight, from underweight to morbidly obese individuals.
Of all the subjects studied, the study found that underweight individuals reporting slow walking had the lowest life expectancy: an average of 64.8 years for men and 72.4 years for women. The association refers to persons who "usually" go faster than to persons who only sometimes go faster.
The focus is on physical activity that is known to provide a range of health benefits. This is the first study specifically looking at typical walking speeds and their correlation to life expectancy. The information was reported by the participants themselves.
The lead author of the study, Professor Tom Yates, stated:
Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness versus body weight for life expectancy. In other words, the results suggest that physical fitness may be a better indicator of life expectancy than the body mass index (BMI), and that encouraging people to walk briskly can bring years into their lives.