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New Indicator of Longevity: Walking Speed

Walkers on TreadmillAttention Baby Boomers: The faster you walk, the longer you might live, according to new research that has confirmed a link between faster walking speeds and longer life expectancy. Talk about an easy natural health solution! It turns out the pace of your gait is a good indicator of overall health if you’re 65 or older.

“A new analysis of walking speed studies shows that—down to the tenth of a meter per second—an older person's pace, along with their age and gender, can predict their life expectancy just as well as the complex battery of other health indicators.” (source: ScientificAmerican.com)

Imagine—your doctor could simply time you on a treadmill for a few seconds and give you an accurate prediction of how many more years you have left. This new research confirms that such an easy test could be a legitimate clinical tool—one that is easy, cheap and painless.

Along with simply providing an indication of one’s overall health and vitality, the walking pace test could also be useful in determining whether or not a person is a candidate for follow-up tests and more invasive screenings for things like cancer or heart disease.

“The new analysis, published online January 4 in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that walking speed turned out to be a consistent predictor of survival length across age, race and height categories, but it was especially useful in zeroing in on life expectancy for those who still live and get around independently and for those older than 75.”

Don’t think you can just head out to your sidewalk and time yourself for half a block. While the test itself is simple enough, it does need to be conducted in a controlled environment by a professional. And researchers noted that to make the most out of this new test, walking pace over time should be recorded to give one’s doctor a better overview of any significant change in pace that might trigger further tests.

The researchers were also quick to point out that purposely increasing your walking speed may not do any good. After all, walking is actually quite a complex action biologically speaking. Your personal pace is self-selected and it intricately pieces together all the necessary systems and functions that are needed to successfully place one foot in front of the other.

So while consciously speeding up may not have a positive effect down the line in these biological systems (more research is needed), walking has proven to be a very beneficial exercise for maintaining best natural health and overall longevity...which is what this is all about anyway, right?

Enjoy your walk!

Source: ScientificAmerican.com

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