A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analysed data from over 50,000 UK adults who self-reported their average, perceived walking speed as well as other health factors. They tracked the subjects for around nine years and found that self professed fast and average speed walkers had approximately 20 per cent lower mortality risk than slow walkers.
Although the study did not prove cause and effect, the researchers suggest that having need for speed strengthens the heart better than stepping slowly. But they highlight that walking at a faster pace could also indicate the health, fitness and physical function of a person, predicting a lower mortality risk rather than being a causal factor.
“The main takeaway message is that stepping up the pace may be a good hack to make walking more health-enhancing,” first author Emmanuel Stamatakis, a professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health at the University of Sydney School of Medicine in Australia, told TIME.