Health

How to live longer: Regular walking may boost longevity

Walking is a peaceful pastime but it also unlocks numerous health benefits. A new study adds to a growing body of evidence linking walking to a longer life expectancy. The key takeaway from the study, to be published in Communication Biology, is that regular walking may add up to 15 years to your life expectancy.

Getting the steps in provides “so many health benefits”, said Doctor Ellie on This Morning.

Studies have shown walking is good for age-related memory loss, she said.

It’s also great for post-menopausal women and keeping your bones and muscles strong, the doc said.

How many steps must you do to see results?

Doctor Ellie was wary about specifying the number of steps because doing so seems “quite arbitrary”.

READ MORE: How to live longer: The secret to longevity? Study suggests the key is to cook at home

According to Doctor Ellie, walking with friends and in nature also provides added benefit.

What the latest study found out

Thomas Yates, a professor in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health, from the University of Leicester, England, investigated the health benefits of a daily walk.

In research to be published in Communication Biology, he found that people who adopted a quick pace can have a biological age 15 years younger than those who take their time on their daily outing.

Prof Yates and his team at the National Institute for Health Research Leicester Biomedical Research Centre looked at the length of telomeres – the protective structures at the end of chromosomes – in 405,981 middle-aged adults in the UK.

What they found was that brisk walking helped to preserve telomere length.

The study comes on the heels of a meta-analysis of 15 studies involving nearly 50,000 people.

The study, spanning four continents, offers new insights into the amount of daily walking steps that will optimally improve adults’ health and longevity- and whether the number of steps is different for people of different ages.

Led by University of Massachusetts Amherst physical activity epidemiologist Amanda Paluch, an international group of scientists who formed the Steps for Health Collaborative found that taking more steps a day helps lower the risk of premature death. The findings are reported in a paper published March 2 in Lancet Public Health.

More specifically, for adults 60 and older, the risk of premature death leveled off at about 6,000-8,000 steps per day, meaning that more steps than that provided no additional benefit for longevity.

Adults younger than 60 saw the risk of premature death stabilise at about 8,000-10,000 steps per day.

Interestingly, the research found no definitive association with walking speed, beyond the total number of steps per day.

Getting in your steps – regardless of the pace at which you walked them – was the link to a lower risk of death.

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