Walking at an average pace was associated with a 20 per cent risk reduction for all-cause mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, and walking at a fast pace was associated with a 24 per cent risk reduction.
For people aged over 60, the benefits increased: an average walking pace was associated with a 45 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, and fast or brisk walking, a 55 per cent reduction.
The study by Sydney University analysed more than 50,200 walkers. Their most valuable message is that you’ve got to huff and puff and step up the pace until you’re out of breath, because that will lead to improvements.
And another study in Canada has confirmed what many people already believed: Walking for older people, even less than the recommended guidelines and only at moderate speed, can add years to your life. The 13-year study followed 140,000 people with an average age of 70.
Experts have calculated some best practice guidelines for time spent walking weekly. It’s about 150 minutes of moderately intense activity, or about 30 minutes five times a week, with about half that — 75 minutes a week — as a minimum.
But the study has found that even if you’re not meeting the minimum, the act of walking is still extremely valuable.
“Even a little walking might help you live longer. It’s been called a perfect exercise, it’s easy, cheap, doesn’t require special equipment and it doesn’t even have to be fast walking. Most of the participants said they walked about four kilometres an hour.”