Benefits of Walking: Average Walking Speed and Your Health

by on July 28, 2011  •  In Benefits of Walking
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Benefits of Walking: Average Walking Speed and Your Health


Walking Speed and Your Health

One thing about average walking speed is that it shows a lot about your health.


Walking Signs

There are four main signs in your walking that show the shape you are in.

The first of these is your stride, that is your motion while you walk. Is it fluid and comfortable or is it stiff and forced?

The second is your gait or manner of walking. Is your body coordinated and contributing to the comfort of walking? Or is it inhibiting your walking speed?

The third is the pace at which you walk. Are you walking briskly and with vigor or is your pace slow and uneasy?

And finally what is your walking posture? Are you erect with your spine in line or do you slump over and have a spine that is out of line?


Walking and Life Expectancy

One thing that has come out in medical research is that average walking speed is a reliable marker for longevity.

A study of the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2011 looked at over 36,000 people over 65. What it found was that walking speed was as accurate a predictor of life expectancy as age, sex, smoking, chronic conditions, smoking, body mass index, time in hospital and other common indicators.

For those over 75, average walking speed was especially accurate in predicting longer life and good health.


Walking Speed

The average walking speed for most subjects of the study was 3 feet per second or about two miles per hour.

Those who walked slower than 2 feet per second or 1.36 miles per hour had a higher risk of dying.

Those who walked faster that 3.3 feet per second or 2.25 miles per hour survived longer than would be predicted by age or gender.


Distance Walking

A 2006 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association of subjects 70 to 79 found that that if you could not walk a quarter of mile, your life expectancy was likely to be no more than six years. It also showed you were more likely to suffer illness and disability before death.

On the other hand, an earlier study found that men between 71 and 93 who could walk two miles a day were half as likely to suffer a heart attack than those men who could only walk a quarter of a mile or less.



Walking faster or farther does not mean you are healthier. More importantly it means you should find the natural walking speed based on your own personal body condition.

If you are slow it is most likely due to an underlying health condition or conditions that may cut your longevity.

So try to see where you fall in the conditioning spectrum and see what you can do to improve your average walking speed.

Picking the right walking shoes for you is an important part of the process.

So take the time to do your research and get the best walking shoes that fit your needs.

Enjoy your walking.

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