There are few things as invigorating as taking a turn around the block after dinner. Or as refreshing as spending a lazy Sunday afternoon strolling through the park with your sweetheart.
It just feels good to be outside and moving.
But what if I told you making one small tweak to your regular routine could slash your risk of an early death up to 24 percent?
I’m betting you’d want to know what it is.
Researchers at the University of Sydney analyzed data from 50,225 walkers from 11 different population-based surveys in England and Scotland. And as you might expect, the scientists found walking more is associated with living longer.
But what the researchers discovered about walking pace stunned everyone.
If you bump up your slow stroll to an average walking pace, you could slash your risk for dying early from any cause by 20 percent.
Raise walking pace and reduce death risk
And that’s not all. When the researchers dug deeper, they uncovered numbers that are even more impressive. Folks who walked at an average pace had a 21 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who walked slowly.
Fast walkers (generally 3.1 to 4.3 miles per hour) made out even better. They slashed their heart death risk by 24 percent.
And while those results are impressive, they get even better if you’re a senior.
Survey volunteers who were 60 or older had a 46 percent lowered risk of dying from heart disease if they kept up an average walking pace. Meanwhile fast walkers had an incredible 53 percent lower risk.
And the great news is even if you’re not in the best of shape the benefits for picking up your pace a bit remain. In other words, simply speeding up how fast you’re walking could literally be all it takes to significantly extend your life.
Ready to get started?
Monitoring your walking pace
Some fitness trackers have a feature that allows you to estimate your speed. But if you don’t have one—or yours doesn’t measure speed—you can still get an idea if your pace is fast enough.
If you have a smartphone, you can download an app such as MapMyWalk or Walkmeter to clock your pace. But keep in mind, these apps use satellites to track your speed. Which means you might have trouble if you happen to walk in an area with lots of tall buildings.
But the simplest way of all to make sure you’re maintaining a brisk pace, is to check in with your body. If you’re slightly out of breath or sweaty when you keep up a steady pace you’re likely walking fast enough according to experts.
And, of course, a regular walking habit has other benefits too. Walking can help you manage your blood sugar and weight, as well as support your bone health.
Improve results by walking the RIGHT way
But to get the most out of your walking make sure you are doing it the right way.
1. Dress the part:
Comfortable clothing and the right shoes will make any walk better. Dress in breathable roomy clothing which won’t restrict your movement or make you hot. And make sure to wear supportive walking shoes.
You should have enough room to wiggle your toes and not have any annoying pressure points. But avoid a shoe that’s too loose which can cause blisters or increase your risk of falling. And plan to replace your shoes every three to six months.
2. Pay attention to posture:
You probably don’t pay much attention to your walking. You just get up and go. But poor walking posture can keep you from getting the most out of your walks. And even worse, it can lead to pain or injuries.
- Avoid a rounded back, stand up straight with shoulders squared
- Take even strides, heel hitting the ground first and pushing off with your toes
- Keep your arms bent at a 90 degree angle, allowing them to swing freely
- Keep your neck, back and shoulder muscles relaxed, but tighten your tummy
You’ll find adopting the right posture helps keep you from tiring out too quickly, even at your new faster speed.
It turns out living longer and stronger couldn’t be easier. Simply pick up your walking pace starting today.