How fast do you walk?

We know that being physically active is an important way to prevent many serious health conditions. Today, many people use wearable fitness trackers (such as Fitbits) to look at their daily physical activity. However, simpler methods can be used to track physical fitness. An example is self-reported walking pace. Walking pace is a very good indicator of physical fitness. It is strongly linked to the risk of early death from heart disease, and it is linked to cardiorespiratory fitness (the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to muscles during exercise). Overall, people who say they walk slowly (even those with a normal weight) have a low life expectancy.

Slow walkers are at higher risk from COVID-19

Slow walking means moving less than 3 miles per hour (mph), while steady/average walking is 3-4 mph, and fast walking is more than 4 mph. Recently, researchers from the United Kingdom looked at self-reported walking pace in 412,596 adults to see if physical activity, excess weight gain, and severe COVID-19 are linked. They found that both body mass index (BMI – a measure of obesity) and walking pace were linked to poor outcomes from COVID-19. For example, slow walkers (obese or not) had the highest risk. Even slow walkers with normal weight had over twice the risk of severe disease and almost four times the risk of death from COVID-19 compared to fast walkers with normal weight.

This study shows that we need to increase awareness of walking pace as a simple way to think about physical fitness level.


Photo by Daniel Reche from Pixabay