It is easy to become unaware of the behaviours that become ingrained over time. However, paying closer attention to everyday habits can change the course of your life. According to research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), evaluating your walking speed is a good place to start.
The study investigated the relationship between low walking speed and the risk of death in older people, both overall and with regard to the main causes of death.
Researchers analysed data from the Three-City study, an ongoing cohort study conducted in three French cities (Bordeaux, Dijon, Montpellier).
For the study, 3,208 men and women aged 65 or above living in the community were recruited from 1999 to 2001, and followed for an average of 5.1 years.
Walking speed (measured at maximum speed over six metres) was compared against mortality overall and according to the main causes of death.
READ MORE: How to live longer: Walking every day promotes longevity – the amount you need to do
The benefits of walking
Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.
“Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier,” explains the NHS.
What’s more, you do not have to walk for hours to reap the rewards.
“A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise,” says the NHS.
Other important tips for boosting longevity
To enhance the benefits of exercise, it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what you eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
According to the dietary guide, you do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week.
It advises aiming to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. Choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced.
According to the guide, starchy food should make up just over a third of the food we eat.
Starchy foods are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in your diet.
The Eatwell Guide also advises choosing higher fibre wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta and brown rice, or simply leaving skins on potatoes.