Slow walkers twice as likely to die from heart disease, scientists find

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People who walk slowly are twice as likely to die from heart disease than faster walkers, a new UK study has found.

Researchers at Leicester University studied nearly half a million people over a period of four years to explore the connection between walking speed and the risk of poor heart health later in life.

The findings showed middle-aged people who classed themselves as slow walkers had around double the rate of heart-related deaths compared to brisk walkers.

Scientists said the results were not explained by other factors like smoking, body mass index, diet or how much television the people watched – meaning walking pace is an “independent predictor”.

“Our study was interested in the links between whether someone said they walked at a slow, steady or brisk pace and whether that could predict their risk of dying from heart disease or cancer in the future,” said Professor Tom Yates who led the study.

Professor Yates, who is a reader in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health at Leicester, said the findings were seen in both men and women.

He added: “We also found that self-reported walking pace was strongly linked to an individual’s objectively measured exercise tolerance, further suggesting walking pace is a good measure of overall physical fitness. 

“Therefore, self-reported walking pace could be used to identify individuals who have low physical fitness and high mortality risk that would benefit from targeted physical exercise interventions.”


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