Once you reach the age of 75, your average walking speed becomes a very accurate indicator of how long you will live, according to new studies being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Even before that age, you can use your body’s default walking speed to gauge your overall health.
The key word here is default: forcing yourself to walk faster will not make you live longer. The body chooses a default walking speed at any given time based on its overall health, thus leading to this speed being a good predictor of overall wellness. Walking speed can be affected by energy level, motor function, and coordination; these in turn can be affected by the health of your heart, muscles, and nervous system. For these reasons, scientists have speculated in the past that walking speed might be an indicator of good or poor health, but the phenomenon has not been studied in depth until recently.
The most prominent study proved that for a sample size over thirty thousand, the adults whose default walking speed was over one meter per second consistently tended to live significantly longer. These studies were done, and were found to be consistent, across people of different genders, ages, weights, and medical histories. They measured their average speeds of adults when walking four meters; they also examined data from previous similar studies. While walking speed was a good indicator for adults of all ages, it was a great predictor for those over the age of seventy-five.
These findings have some useful applications for the elderly community. If the findings are verified by further studies, doctors can begin to use walking speed as a regular metric for determining overall health of adults, helping them better diagnose when there is a problem. Also, elderly adults can do home health checks, timing themselves when they walk to see if they are above the average rate of 0.8 meters per second. If they are under that rate, they can begin exercising to increase cardiac health, or visit a doctor if they think they are having a deeper issue.
Via – MSNBC