A newly-released study reveals that walking fast in your old age is a sign you will live a long life. The report in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed data from nine studies that involved 34,485 senior citizens. Participants in the research were regularly tested over a period of 21 years. The researchers looked at the relationship between walking speed in the over-65s and expected longevity. They concluded that the faster an older person can walk, the longer they can expect to live. Lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Studenski said: "It’s a real part of the human experience to see that when someone slows down with age, they may not be doing as well as they once were."
Dr. Studenski explained why an elderly person’s walking pace could be an indicator of a longer life. She said walking involves the use of many bodily functions working in tandem. The heart, lungs, skeletal system and joints, muscles, nerves and brain must all work together to ensure a smooth and consistent speed. Damage to any of these systems could result in walking more slowly, which could signal medical problems. Studenski said that walking speed was a better indicator of longevity than other factors, and that elders who walked at “one metre per second or higher consistently demonstrated survival that was longer than expected by age and sex alone”. She also suggested doctors look more carefully at slow-walking patients.