Exercise is longevity's lifeblood because it wards off numerous chronic diseases, such as heart disease. What's more, you don't have to do much exe
Exercise is longevity’s lifeblood because it wards off numerous chronic diseases, such as heart disease. What’s more, you don’t have to do much exercise to unlock the benefits. Research suggests walking every day can extend your lifespan.
Several studies have linked the mild intensity exercise to longevity but a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) examined the association between time spent walking and life expectancy.
The authors followed up 27,738 participants aged 40 to 79 years and prospectively collected data on their survival covering a 13-year-period.
The researchers found participants who walked one hour per day had a longer life expectancy from 40 years of age than participants who walked less than one hour per day.
In addition to their longer life expectancy, participants who walked one hour per day required a lower lifetime medical expenditure from 40 years of age than participants who walked less than an hour per day.
READ MORE: How to live longer: Tea with a slice of lemon could reduce cancer risk and boost longevity
In their concluding remarks, the researchers said: “Encouraging people to walk may extend life expectancy and decrease lifetime medical expenditure, especially for men.”
Additional benefits of walking
Evidence suggests it is not only the duration of walking that counts but also the pace.
People who have a faster walking pace outlive those who walked more slowly, according to researchers who monitored the walking habits and deaths of nearly 475,000 people, most of whom were in their 50s at the start of the study.
“Brisk walking” was defined by researchers as walking at least three miles per hour, or 100 steps a minute.
South Africa variant symptoms: The 15 possible signs [TIPS]
Rice water for hair growth: Does it make hair grow? [ADVICE]
Why Captain Moore did not take vaccine [INSIGHT]
It is worth nothing that walking pace was self-reported by participants, who were asked to indicate whether they walked at a “slow pace,” “steady/average pace,” or “brisk pace.”
The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that participants with brisk walking paces had longer life expectancies across all categories of body mass index (BMI).
BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.
“The survival is the same for fast walkers for a wide range of body mass index, from 20 to 40,” Dr. Francesco Zaccardi, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and the study’s lead researcher, told Healthline.
“This result indicates that physical function is a stronger determinant of longevity than body mass index, and also people with high body mass index but with a good fitness may survive longer.”
Conversely, participants with slower walking paces had shorter life expectancies across all categories of BMI.
Researchers reported that women who walked more quickly had a life span of about 87 years compared to 72 years for women who walked slowly.
Men who walked quickly had a life span of about 86 years compared to 65 years for men who walked more slowly.
That’s a 15-year average difference for women and a 20-year average difference for men.
Other key tips for promoting longevity
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (see 5 A Day)
- Base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day).
“If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts,” adds the NHS.