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What does your walk reveal about you?

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21 June 2022

By Dr. Helena Popovic, Medical Doctor, International Speaker and leading authority on improving brain function
June 2022

We have long known that people in their 70s and 80s who walk at a slower pace, die younger.

Research has now revealed that injuries aside, walking more slowly in our 40s is also associated with faster ageing and decline in brain volume. In fact, the biological age difference (as measured by telomere length) between the fastest and slowest walkers was 16 years! Telomeres are the caps at the ends of our chromosomes (carriers of our genetic material) that shorten as we age.

On the flip side, 10 minutes of brisk walking can increase life expectancy for people with chronic diseases (such as asthma, arthritis and cancer) by 3 years. Bump it up to 22 minutes a day and you’ll add 5 years to your life.

What constitutes brisk walking? Get breathless. If you can carry on an animated conversation, you’re not walking quickly enough. If you can only get out half a sentence at a time, you’ve nailed it. Habitually walking faster increases life expectancy regardless of body weight or waist circumference, thus walking speed is more important than body weight when it comes to predicting a person’s health. In a study of almost half a million people in the UK, those who had the lowest muscle mass and walked the slowest had the shortest life expectancy (64.8 years for men and 72.4 years for women).

*If you would like to learn more from Dr Helena Popovic or buy her books, please visit: drhelenapopovic.com

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