Step lively to a longer life?

Research we're watching

People who walk at a brisk clip may live longer than those who walk slowly — regardless of how much they weigh, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at data from nearly 475,000 adults in the United Kingdom Biobank study, which recruited middle-aged participants from 2006 to 2010. The participants, most of whom were slightly overweight, were asked to describe their usual walking pace as slow, average, or brisk.

Those who reported walking briskly had longer life expectancies, regardless of their body mass index, or BMI (a measure of weight that includes height; see www.health.harvard.edu/bmi-calculator to determine yours). For BMI values ranging from less than 20 to 40 or higher, fast-walking women and men had life expectancies of more than 86 and 85 years, respectively.

Because the study is observational, it doesn't prove that walking speed affects longevity. But the findings are consistent with earlier research, including an earlier U.K. Biobank study suggesting that slow walkers were about twice as likely to die from heart disease as fast walkers. The new study appeared May 9 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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