Walking back to happiness, woopah oh yeah yeah
Getting your legs working is a great way to keep fit
Walking briskly could lead to a longer life, a major study released on Friday shows. Speeding up while walking reduces the risk of all-cause death by 20% and more than double that (46%) for people over 60 years old, the UK-based research found.
“A fast pace is generally 5-7km/h, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels,” said lead scientist Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney. Walking that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty is considered a brisk pace.Walking at an average pace was linked to a 20% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to a slow pace, while walking at a fast pace lowered the risk by 24%.
The results for cardiovascular disease were similar: 24% reduction for fast walking and 21% for walking at an average pace compared to walking slowly.
In South Africa the Run/Walk for Life franchise has 32,000 members, 70% of them walkers, and their records reinforce the health benefits of walking.CEO Matthew Grossett said: “We have seen massive health benefits including members safely going off blood pressure and cholesterol medicines. There has been a remarkable improvement among members who are pre-diabetic with exercise.”
He said people do a fitness test when they arrive and start walking within their comfort zone.
“We focus on people who don’t think they like to exercise, having fun and doing it at their individual level. You are not forced into a group fitter than you and it is non-competitive,” Grossett said.
The Teachers on the Move programme run by the Sports Science Institute of SA, with Woolworths as its partner, reported health improvements among its participating teachers.At six schools 87 teachers completed the programme. “Teachers struggled through the 12-minute motion test baseline but progressed to a speed walk/running pace at closure,” said Zulfah Abrahams from Sports Science.
The teachers’ blood pressures stabilised, their glucose and cholesterol levels improved and their waist and hip circumferences were reduced through the programme, which started in August 2016.
The latest study conducted in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 analysed 11 population-based surveys and mortality records.
Five universities including Sydney, Cambridge and Edinburgh collaborated on it and the findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The research team recommends that walking pace be emphasised in public health messages.
Stamatakis said: “Especially in situations when walking more isn’t possible due to time pressures or a less walking-friendly environment, walking faster may be a good option to get the heart rate up – one that most people can easily incorporate into their lives.”But beware. Don’t become a “digital deadwalker”, so distracted by your cellphone that you end up tripping over curbs and falling down stairs, joining the increasing number of people getting injured for this reason.