Your Walking Speed Reveals More About Your Health than You Realize

Are you healthy? How do you know? Commonly, we rely on fitness tests, blood panels, and medical screenings to gauge our health.

But what if a simple measure, like your walking speed, could reveal much more about your overall well-being?

This is not just a thought experiment but a reality backed by scientific research. Your gait speed could be an essential health metric.

Why Walking Slowly Can Be Concerning

While walking is a part of our everyday life, its pace can be a significant indicator of health. For instance, a 2020 study involving over 4,000 participants found that lower gait speed was associated with a 34% increase in mortality risk.

Surprisingly, this correlation was even evident in healthy populations. But how does this translate outside clinical settings?

Clinical vs. Non-Clinical Walking Speeds

Another study in 2020 compared walking speeds in a lab and during everyday activities among older adults.

The findings were telling: there was a marked difference between clinical and daily walking speeds. Despite the environment, the speed at which we walk matters significantly.

Predicting Health Trajectories Through Walking

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Photo Credit: Desizned/Shutterstock.

A 2013 study delved deeper, examining the gait speeds of individuals over eight years.

It categorized participants into slow, moderate, and fast decline groups, finding a direct correlation between walking speed decline and mortality risk.

This study underscores the importance of not just the walking speed but its rate of change over time.

What’s the Ideal Walking Speed?

A 2011 paper sheds light on this, suggesting that a walking speed of about 0.8 m/s correlates with median life expectancy.

Walking faster than 1.0 m/s may indicate healthier aging, while speeds slower than 0.6 m/s could signal potential health issues.

Applying this Knowledge to Your Life

Your walking speed is more than just a number; it’s a reflection of your overall health.

Slower speeds could indicate underlying health issues, even if they’re not immediately apparent. Conversely, maintaining or improving your walking speed can contribute to better health and longevity.

Measuring & Improving Your Gait Speed

Here’s a simple way to measure your gait speed: time yourself walking a 10-meter distance and calculate your speed.

Compare this to the population data to see where you stand. Remember, the goal isn’t just to walk faster but to engage in moderate-intensity activities like brisk walking to improve your overall health.

The Bigger Picture: Walking as a Health Tool

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Image Credit: MiniStocker/Shutterstock.

Walking is not just beneficial for your health; it’s a barometer of it. Paying attention to your walking speed and making necessary adjustments in your physical activity can be a crucial step towards a healthier life.

Remember, it’s not just about the number of steps you take but the pace at which you take them.

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Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.