What does walking speed have to do with life expectancy? Several studies have associated a faster walking speed with a longer lifespan.
A study found that women who walked at 4 mph experienced a 15-year boost in life expectancy, despite body fat, compared to other women who walked slower than 3 mph. Men who walked 4+ mph could experience as much as a 20-year boost in life expectancy compared to those slower than 3 mph in pace.
Other research has shown that faster walking lowers the risk of all-cause mortality and heart disease-related death. However, this study was limited because walking speed was self-rated.
A recent study by researchers from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, found that slow walkers had up to four times higher likelihood of dying from severe COVID-19 cases, and more than twice the likelihood of experiencing severe COVID-19, compared to fast walkers.
Benefits of fast walking are related to improvements in cardiovascular health and stress resilience. Although, there might be other common behaviors among fast walkers that also benefit health.
The Hearty Take
At Hearty, we believe that a faster walking speed is healthspan protective. A pace above 3 mph seems to confer the greatest benefits. Monitor your speed using a wearable device!