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How to live longer: Brisk walkers reduce cardiovascular & cancer mortality by 20 percent


Walking is already promoted as a cornerstone of health promotion, but health experts believe in the power of one’s walking pace. How fast you walk should be emphasised in public health campaigns to encourage people to incorporate a brisk-paced walk into their everyday lives to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular and cancer mortality to help boost your longevity.

“We found for cancer mortality, just by doing walking helped to reduce your risk.

“But for cardiovascular disease, walking brisker gave you better protection and prevented cardiovascular disease more.

“Not all walking is equal, so slow steps are not as good for you as brisk steps.

“So, walking a bit quicker was more beneficial.”


Linking mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 – in which participants self-reported their walking pace – the research team then adjusted for factors such as total amount and intensity of all physical activity taken, age, sex and body mass index.

While sex and body mass index did not appear to influence outcomes, walking at an average or fast pace was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease.

A fast pace is generally five to six kilometres per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels; an alternative indicator is to walk at a pace that makes you warmer, slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained.

In light of the findings, the research team is calling for walking pace to be emphasised in public health messages.

Dr Mosley added how this time can be broken down and said: “I tend to go for a 10/15-minute walk in the mornings and then I like to have an afternoon or evening walk as well.”

“To me that’s perfect,” professor Murhphy said, “Because walking is really suited to that

“Unlike other types of exercises where you wouldn’t really run two or three times a day, walking fits that model of breaking it up.

“The benefits are exactly the same and in fact we actually think the benefits might be a little greater because you are getting three boosts your metabolism, you’re interrupting your sitting three times a day and you are getting the circulation going and switching your brain on a couple of times

“My preference is if you can get two or three breaks in your day especially now that we are all working from home, that’s probably the optimal way to do it.”

When it comes to brisk walkers, Dr Murphy said: “For me brisk is that you can feel your heart beating, you feel yourself warming up, you’re breathing faster than usual but you are still comfortable enough to carry on a conversation similar to you can talk but not sing – it’s the same intensity where you are breathing heavier, but you still have a bit of a capacity to carry on a conversation.”


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