We all know that walking is one of the easiest things you can do to keep yourself healthy. If you want to increase those benefits without a lot of work, The New York Times suggests picking up the pace.
Photo by DieselDemon
It has generally been assumed that walking, no matter how fast, is beneficial. If you're walking slowly, you just need to walk further to get the same benefits as someone walking at a pace of around 15 minutes per mile. However, according to one large-scale study, it looks like the pace might actually matter more than we initially though:
Unexpectedly, the death rate remained high among the slowest walkers, even if they met or exceeded the standard exercise guidelines and expended as much energy per day as someone walking briskly for 30 minutes. This effect was most pronounced among the slowest of the slow walkers, whose pace was 24 minutes per mile or higher. They were 44 per cent more likely to have died than walkers who moved faster, even if they met the exercise guidelines.
One important inference of these statistics is that intensity matters, if you are walking for health. "Our results do suggest that there is a significant health benefit to pursuing a faster pace," Dr. Williams said. Pushing your body, he said, appears to cause favourable physiological changes that milder exercise doesn't replicate.
The solution? Walk faster:
So check yours, your spouse's or perhaps your parents' pace. The process is easy. Simply find a 400-meter track and, using a stopwatch, have everyone walk at his or her normal speed. If a circuit of the track takes someone 6 minutes or more, that person's pace is 24 minutes per mile or slower, and he or she might consider consulting a doctor about possible health issues, Dr. Williams said.
The lesson? Even when you're not in a hurry, it's worth picking up the pace a bit to get where you're going.
Why a Brisk Walk Is Better [The New York Times]