January 5, 2011
Walk Fast, Live Longer
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Walking fast may do more than just help you get somewhere quickly. A new study reveals those who have faster walking speeds live longer lives.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed data on more than 34,000 adults who were 65 years of age or older. They measured gait speed for each participant using distance in meters and time in seconds.
Results showed walking speed was associated with differences in survival, especially among those who were older than 75 years of age. Gait speeds of 1.0 meter (3.3 feet)/second or higher were consistently associated with longer survival. Gait speeds of about 0.8 meters (2.6 feet)/second were mostly associated with a median life expectancy.
"Walking requires energy, movement control and support and places demands on multiple organ systems including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems," the authors write. "Slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high energy cost of walking."
The authors say their findings suggest that walking speed may be used to identify older adults with an increased risk of early death. Practitioners may target those with speeds slower than 0.6 meter (2 feet)/second.
"Gait speed may be a simple and accessible indicator of the health of the older person," the authors conclude.
SOURCE: JAMA, 2011; 305:50-58