walking speed may someday predict longevity

Happy June!

I like to think of June as Pre-Summer, when the the days and nights are long and intoxicating. This is a perfect time to change up a walking pattern.

My focus this month will be on increasing my interval duration, not a lot, but just enough to keep my heart rate in the zone a bit longer. Last month I started 3 minute intervals of slow walk – fast walk – jog. I’ve noticed my average heart rate is beginning to adapt and come down. (Yay!)

Going forward, I’ve decided to alternate between three and four minute intervals of slow jog – walk. My goal is threefold…to tinker with my mile times, to burn some more calories, and to continue to improve my training heart rate. I want to vary my weekly routine – alternating short duration and long duration training days. I will schedule interval walks for 30 minutes at least three times a week, and hour long four milers on the other days.

With all of my prior conditioning, increasing my walk speed might be good for my longevity. (Someday)

A 2011 walking study in the Journal of American Medical Association states

Gait speed has been recommended as a potentially useful clinical indicator of well-being among the older adults. 

The authors suggest this is because

Walking requires energy, movement control, and support and places demands on multiple organ systems, including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. Slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high-energy cost of walking.

This study is one of the first to find a direct relationship between walking speed, health, and longevity for people over 75.

Science is quick to point out that gait speed may have potential for medical interventions, but it is too soon to tell how this information can be used for the greatest effect. In other words, we shouldn’t be urging those septuagenarians to get out and power walk just yet. But for doctors, tracking a person’s walking speed over time could be an indicator of a potential health problem.

The benefits of walking keep growing.

Slow and over time it may not be such a bad idea to…

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