Walking Speed and Senior Longevity

Would you like to know how long you’re going to live? If you’re an older adult, try measuring your walking speed. How fast you walk says more about you than you think. According to University of Pittsburgh researchers, seniors who walk faster live to an older age than those who move along at a snail’s pace. Is walking speed a good indicator of longevity?

Walking Fast: Is It a Marker for Longevity?

Researchers at University of Pittsburgh measured the walking speed of 34,000 older adults (age 65 and over). They found that older adults who walked faster lived longer on average. In fact the magic number seems to be a walking speed of 3.3 feet per second, which is a little over two miles per hour. Seniors who walked at this speed or faster lived longer on average. So compelling were the results of this study that researchers suggest that walking speed may be an accurate way to identify older adults at a higher risk for dying.

The question is which comes first? Older adults who are healthy are likely to walk faster, and the fact that they’re healthier means they would probably live longer anyway. Or does walking faster actually increase life span in older people? No one knows for sure, but this study suggests that walking speed could be a marker for longevity in older people. In fact, researchers go so far as to say it’s as accurate as blood pressure, heart rate and other objective parameters of health and well-being.

It’s not surprising that walking faster would say something about an older person’s general state of health. Walking at a rapid pace puts stress on the lung, heart, muscles and joints – and taxes every organ system, at least to some degree. Seniors with failing health are by necessity going to walk at a slower pace.

Walking Speed and Living a Longer Life

Walking speed may be a good indicator of overall health and longevity in older people, and it’s one that’s easy to measure – no blood draw required. Staying active while you’re young can help you get to those seniors years where all of that activity will pay off with a faster walking speed – and a longer life..

Need a companion for your long walks? check out our blog post on the best dog breeds for seniors


Ivanhoe.com. “Walk Fast, Live Longer”


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