No matter where they're going, some people walk at a leisurely pace. I am not one of those people. I come from a family of long-legged fast walkers. I've been walking fast for so long that it's physically difficult for me to comply when my slow-walking friends ask me to reduce my pace. In fact, I'm such a fast walker that a friend sent me a new study that found that the health benefits of walking fast may include a longer life. A lot longer, in fact, which means now I can tell everyone I'm doing it for my health.
The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, revealed that people who walk at a fast clip, no matter their body type or size, live more than 20 years longer than people who don't, "providing further evidence that walking pace is an important marker of overall health status." One of the reasons walking fast is good for you is because it increases your heart rate, which can help lower your blood pressure. And anything that gets your heart rate up counts as cardio when it comes to exercise.
"While there are likely to be multiple factors contributing to the strength of our findings, it is well established that increasing your fitness is one of the best things you can do for your health. Increasing your walking pace in everyday life is a good way to increase fitness levels, particularly in those who are slow walkers," Tom Yates, a lead author of the study and professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and health at the University of Leicester, told Newsweek.
Aside from extending your life, walking has a host of other benefits that include increasing creativity and boosting overall brain health. The Mayo Clinic reported that walking on the regular can also prevent things like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. In addition, it strengthens muscles and bones and improves your mood, balance, and coordination.
"The faster, farther, and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits," the Mayo Clinic noted. They also provide tips for people who are new to walking as a form of fitness. "Start with a simple goal, such as, 'I'll take a five or 10-minute walk during my lunch break.' When your five or 10-minute walk becomes a habit, set a new goal, such as, 'I'll walk for 20 minutes after work.'"
Personally, I walk farther if I'm listening to a podcast or upbeat music. You can also use your walk to catch up with friends and family on the phone. However, if you're walking with your phone, the one thing that's not good for you is texting, checking email or social media, or browsing the internet.
A study from the University of Buffalo found that distracted walking, specifically texting, causes more injuries than distracted driving. "When texting, you're not as in control with the complex actions of walking," Dr. Dietrich Jehle, an attending physician at Erie County Medical Center, said in a press release. "While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can't see the path in front of you."
Texting and walking is responsible for so many injuries that it's already banned in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition, New York state has proposed a bill that would ban texting and walking while crossing the street, CNN reported. Aside from being dangerous, texting while walking also negates most of the benefits of walking itself. You can't walk fast while you're posting a pic to Instagram. And looking down at your phone means you're holding your head at an unnatural angle, which in turn affects your balance and coordination.
Basically, the best way to add 20 years to your life is to walk fast without texting. Because, let's face it, people who get hit by buses because they're busy tweeting are less likely to live longer. If you really want to check social media or text your BAE, use that as a reward for finishing your fast walk.