How to live longer: The simple exercise shown to extend your lifespan
How to live longer: Research suggests increasing walking pace may boost longevity (Image: Getty Images)
HOW TO live longer: A long and fulfilling life is largely contingent on the choices people make along the way. How regularly someone exercises is a useful barometer of how healthy they are, but the best type of exercise is a contested subject. A new study reveals a surprising finding.
Ample evidence shows that regular exercise is a surefire way to boost longevity, because it lowers the risk of developing a wide range of deadly conditions.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the greatest threats to longevity, for example, but it can largely be prevented by maintaining high fitness levels and following a healthy diet.
While numerous studies demonstrate the health benefits of exercise in general or focus on specific groups of exercise, there is a growing field of research that is shedding a light on the specific forms of exercise that will extend longevity.
One of those studies, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, makes the case for speeding up your walking pace.
The study found that walking at an average pace was found to be associated with a 20 percent risk reduction for all-cause mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24 percent.
A similar result was found for risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, with a reduction of 24 percent walking at an average pace and 21 percent walking at a brisk or fast pace, compared to walking at a slow pace.
Interestingly, the health benefits were most pronounced in older age groups, with average paced walkers aged 60 years or over experiencing a 46 percent reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular causes, and fast paced walkers a 53 percent reduction.
A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometres per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained,” said lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health.
The researchers sought to establish the link between walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.
To gather the findings, the researchers pooled together and analysed mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 – in which participants self-reported their walking pace – the research team then adjusted for factors such as total amount and intensity of all physical activity taken, age, sex and body mass index.
“Walking pace is associated with all-cause mortality risk, but its specific role – independent from the total physical activity a person undertakes – has received little attention until now,” Professor Stamatakis said.
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