Walking speed predicts life span and health of seniors and cities

Walking

Walking speed predicts life expectancy - and can also predict the health of a city. Image: Wikimedia commons

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that walking speed can predict life span. The speed of a person’s walking gait has been found to predict life expectancy. A person’s walking speed can also indicate the city where they live.

Walking speed predicts life span

An analysis published by the JAMA, it was found that a person’s walking speed very accurately indicates their life span. This meta-analysis consisted of nine separate studies of individuals 65 years or older. The study measured the walking speed of 34,485 people. For every one tenth of one meter per second increase in walking speed, survival rates for additional years increased exponentially.

Why walking speed is important

The speed at which a person walks is affected by many things. Generally, a person’s walking speed is something that is not consciously chosen. Instead, the body chooses a walking speed that is easiest for the weight, bones, joints, muscles, lungs, heart, and other bodily systems to handle. Because walking requires so many different bodily systems, it is an easy way to measure and quantify the health of a person without doing multiple tests.

Walking speed predicts more than life span

Though this single study looked only at the correlation between walking speed and health, walking speed has been found to mean more than just health. Walking speed has also been found to correlate to the city in which a person lives. Average walking speed in various cities around the world differs greatly. Average walking speed in a city can actually indicate the population, average income, and even major health problems within a city. Combined, these two pieces of research show a strong correlation to the health of older individuals to their walking speed, and perhaps the city that they live in. How fast do you walk?

Sources:

Radiolab
Journal of the American Medical Association

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