Fast Stepping Seniors May Have Greater Life Expectancy

By Emily Murray

There are many signs that we widely regard as indicators of health. A fit body, a sound mind…but would you ever suspect that the speed at which you walk can predict your longevity? Well if you are a senior, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, those who move at a relatively fast pace live longer than those who have great difficulty getting with their mobility.

How’s that for a little new year’s motivation to keep you moving?

This conclusion was drawn after examining the collective information of 9 separate studies involving more than 34,000 seniors. They were timed for 13 feet of walking and the results lead to the conclusion that those who are 65 and older who walk more briskly and with a bit more “pep in their step” are expected to live longer.

According to ABC News, the lead researcher, Dr. Stephanie Studenski, says that one of the main reasons these findings make sense is that it takes many different body systems are responsible for causing motion and helping you put one foot in front of the other. The heart, lungs, muscles, bones, brain function and other systems all need to work harmoniously together and now it is believed the more efficient the speed of motion, the more efficient and healthy those systems may be.

The implications of this study have yet to be tapped, however, it has been suggested that a “walking test” be used for doctors to determine a senior’s health. Those who are still largely mobile can be assured from a medical standpoint that they are likely to live longer and therefore should be screened regularly to make sure they stay in this healthy state. Conversely, those who have the most difficulty walking can search specifically for red-flags which  may be causing this overall decline in well-being.

Many may conclude that they ought to be vigilant about speeding up their walking, however, experts believe that while there is no harm in doing this, it seems that simply increasing your speed cannot minipulate the findings. It’s a good idea, however, to work with a physical therapist to ensure that the speed you are currently walking out can be maintained and does not begin to slow down.

Whether you are the fastest or slowest walker, keeping active to the best of your ability can help maintain both your mental and physical health as well as your flexibility and balance. Depending on your level of fitness and overall health, your doctor can help recommend a program that will be a good match for you.

How do you keep your mind and body healthy? Do you find this report to be surprising?