Walking is one of the most recommended forms of exercise. And it’s understandable why. This type of workout is free, easy to do and can be practiced anywhere. It doesn’t require special physical abilities or equipment and, of course, it comes with a multitude of health benefits.
The benefits of daily walking are impressive. By going for a stroll each day you can reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, lose and maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your muscles and bones, alleviate stress and depression and improve brain function.
Another major benefit of this exercise is that it can actually add years to your life. Yes, that’s true. You don’t have to hit the gym and engage in high-intensity workouts in order to extend your life. Simply walk to live longer. And healthier. And happier.
The Link Between Walking and Life Expectancy
Exercise in general and walking in particular can have a direct impact on your life expectancy. The association between physical activity and a longer life has been proven by numerous scientific studies.
A 2021 cohort study aimed to analyze the link between the daily step volume and premature mortality among 2110 middle-aged adults. Scientists discovered that walking more can indeed prevent an early death. More precisely, participants who took at least 7000 steps each day had a 50 to 70% lower risk of mortality in comparison to those who took less than 7000 steps.
Another cohort study examined the relationship between the number of steps taken and all-cause mortality in older women. 16741 women, with an average age of 72 years, wore a fitness tracker during their walking sessions between 2011 and 2015. According to the results, participants who took 4400 steps/day manifested a substantially-reduced death rate in comparison to those who averaged only 2700 steps. The risk of death was furthermore reduced until approximately 7500 steps, when the rates leveled off.
A different research analyzed the effects of replacing sedentary behavior with physical activity. According to scientists, substituting one hour of walking or other moderate-to-intense exercise with a sedentary activity can increase the risk of death by 7 to 18%.
Pick Up the Pace
We’ve seen that recreational walking can increase your life span. People who walk more and are more physically active have higher odds of prolonging their lives. But does it make a difference if you add some intensity and walk faster? Well, it does.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the association between the walking pace and the risk of mortality in more than 50000 walkers in England and Scotland. The analysis showed that participants who walked at a brisk pace had a 20% reduced risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality.
Researchers from Mayo Clinic Proceedings reached the same conclusion. Fast walkers have a longer life expectancy in comparison to those who walk slower. Women who walked at a brisk pace had a life expectancy of approximately 87 years, while men – around 86. The life span was significantly lower for slow walkers: approximately 72 years for women and 65 for men.
According to other findings, walking at a brisk pace for 75 minutes per week may add 1.8 years to your life. Double the number of active minutes in a week and you should prolong your life with 3.4–4.5 years.
Keep Track of your Walks
One of the smart things you can do is to start tracking your walking activity. Tracking can help you in various ways. It lets you know precisely how much you’re walking and if you’re meeting the recommended guidelines. It helps you stay updated with the progress towards your fitness targets. It can help you stay focused and motivated to walk more and reach new goals.
You can easily monitor your walks with a pedometer app, like our own ActivityTracker. The app is free to download and tracks automatically your physical activity. You can see diverse fitness metrics, such as your step count, the distance covered, calories burned or active time. You’ll have the chance to set a personal target and adjust it along the way, and also share your progress with friends and family.
You need to exercise to live longer. If you want to reduce the risk of a premature death, you need to be active on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if your aim is to walk leisurely for 30 minutes, go for a 15-minute brisk walk or take 7.500 steps. The important thing is to sit less and move more. Being constantly active will help you improve your life expectancy.