Stride right and score some serious longevity benefits. Here's how to walk for a longer lifespan, according to a new study.

Karla Walsh
May 18, 2021
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Sure, walking can get you from point A to point B. But we're also learning from a growing body of research that doing so regularly (just three or more times per week ) can reduce dementia risk and even a few minutes per day might help you drift off to sleep quicker and easier.

How much we walk makes a difference, but how fast we walk is vital, too, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity. People who walk slower (at a pace of 20 minutes per mile or slower) are up to four times more likely to die from severe cases of COVID-19—and are twice as likely to contract a bad case of this coronavirus—than those who walk at a brisk pace (15-minute miles or quicker).

By the time Tom Yates, PhD, a professor at the UK's University of Leicester and his colleagues released their findings, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other large, science-based organizations had pinpointed that obesity and high body mass index might put one at higher risk than an individual at a "normal" weight for COVID-19 complications. This walking study was the first to correlate fitness abilities and COVID-19 risk.

It's not just about this specific virus, though. The #1 reason why we should all consider walking fast regularly: It can extend our lifespans.

"Fast walkers can live up to 20 years longer," professor Yates tells The Daily Mail. "It improves cardiovascular fitness, which is a measure of how efficient your heart is, and your ability to utilize oxygen, which is an indicator of fitness."

walking workout
Credit: Getty Images / digitalskillet

Earlier research confirms this. A brisk 20-minute walk every day could reduce your risk of death by upwards of 30%, reports a 2015 study The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (BTW, depending on which experts you ask, brisk walking is categorized by 100 steps per minute, or about 3 miles per hour. Or more simply, brisk walking is fast enough that your breathing becomes heavy enough to still talk but not quite sing.)

Even if you step a little slower, you can still score some major health benefits by moving a little more. Doing anything besides sitting for 30 minutes of the day—be it yoga, cycling, dancing or gardening—that you'd normally lounge leads to a 17% lower risk of early death, according to another brand-new paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

As you step right up, keep these 5 simple walking form tips in mind, and if you're ready to take your walking workouts to the next level, try Nordic walking!