YOU ARE YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Movement, Motivation and Mindset for Active Seniors

Energy Bite 155 – The Faster You Walk, The Longer You’ll Live

Did you know that the faster you walk, the longer you will live? Apparently it’s true.

I was watching a videocast of an interview featuring the founders of Quest Nutrition, one of the fastest growing companies in the country, and makers of the popular Quest nutrition bar. During the interview a comment was made about the walking speed of two of the founders while the third was always lagging behind. The return comment was that the faster you walked, the longer you would live.

What? So I looked it up. Sure enough, in the January 5, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), an article appeared entitled “Gait Speed and Survival in Older Adults. Here’s the link to the study: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=644554 if your really want to delve into it.

After struggling through the study and learning things like: this study is actually a compilation of data from a selection of other studies, and that there are a lot of conflicts of interest involved (disclosed at the end of the study), the study determined the following:

“Why would gait speed predict survival? Walking requires energy, movement control, and support and places demands on multiple organ systems, including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. Slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high-energy cost of walking.13,39– 54 Gait speed could be considered a simple and accessible summary indicator of vitality because it integrates known and unrecognized disturbances in multiple organ systems, many of which affect survival. In addition, decreasing mobility may induce a vicious cycle of reduced physical activity and deconditioning that has a direct effect on health and survival.”

Got that? And that was the coherent part. It also makes sense!

When my wife and I go for a walk on the trails and paths where we live, we walk at a pace between 3 to 4 miles per hour. This equates to a mile each fifteen to twenty minutes. We walk about 40 minutes so that comes to 2 to 2 1/2 miles each time we walk. In talking to others our age, their walking pace is similar. So that’s what I’d recommend for anyone out for a walk. How did I know that was the pace and distance? Oh the glories of the iPhone and its pedometer apps.

I’ve recommended walking many times in these posts. But you need more than just walking. You need to move your body (joints) through their full range of motion, and you need to lift heavy things. Walking (or running if you will) should become part of your routine as you get older. Walk more and live longer. That’s what the studies say.

Thank you for reading.

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