According to a new study, healthy adults who are slow walkers are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those of us who walk at a more brisk pace. “This suggests that habitual walking pace is an independent predictor of heart-related death,” lead author Professor Tom Yates said.
Researchers from the University of Leicester followed 420,727 people over a period of six years to assess death rates. Those who were slow walkers were found to be between 1.8 and 2.4 times more likely to die of heart disease – which is the world’s biggest killer – during the timeframe.
The researchers took into account risk factors including smoking, BMI and diet, but found that the conclusion still applied to both men and women. However, it was actually adults with the lowest BMIs who were found to have the highest risk from walking slowly.
The study’s authors believe that walking pace is an indicator of overall health and fitness as it’s strongly linked to exercise tolerance.
“Self-reported walking pace could be used to identify individuals who have low physical fitness and high mortality risk,” said Professor Yates. The researchers also looked into whether walking pace could be linked to cancer, but no connection was found.
This is not the first study to link heart disease and walking pace though – research from 2009 concluded that walking slowly is “strongly associated” with an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
Heart disease is often a result of high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol, and is the leading cause of death in the US, second only to dementia in the UK.