Stride right and score some serious longevity benefits. Here's how to walk for a longer lifespan, according to a 2021 study.

Sure, walking can get you from point A to point B. But we're also learning from a growing body of research that walking 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 2021 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, Ph.D., 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 you should consider walking fast regularly is: It can extend your lifespan.

"Fast walkers can live up to 20 years longer," professor Yates told 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 in 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 a 2019 paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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