Walking Faster Helps You Live LongerPosted on Jan 7th 2011 12:00PM by That's Fit Editors
New research shows that walking faster in the later years of life may help seniors live longer.
Dr. Stephanie Studenski and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh analyzed the findings of nine previous studies to determine whether there was a link between walking speed and mortality.
They did so because there are often few clues that doctors can use to determine longevity in a patient.
"Remaining years of life vary widely in older adults, and physicians should consider life expectancy when assessing goals of care and treatment plans," wrote the authors of the study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "However, life expectancy based on age and sex alone provides limited information because survival is also influenced by health and functional abilities."
The data the researchers used was collected between 1986 and 2000; the 34,485 participants were 65 or older, with an average age of 73.5. Most were white women.
Information on the subjects' walking speed and gait was gathered at the beginning of the project and followed up on for six to 21 years thereafter. The seniors' walking pace was calculated using distance in meters and time in seconds and had participants starting in a standing position then walking at their usual speeds. The average pace was 0.92 meters, or three feet, per second.
During the course of the study, 17,528 people died, though the five-year survival rate was high -- about 85 percent -- and the 10-year survival rate was almost 60 percent. What the researchers learned was that gait speed seemed to be related to how long people lived at all ages and among both sexes in the participant pool.
The link seemed particularly strong, they said, after age 75. They said the 10-year survival rate was as high as 87 percent among men and 91 percent among women who walked briskly, while it was only 19 percent for the most slow-moving men and 35 percent for the most sluggish women.
For more on how walking can improve longevity, visit AOL Health.