Above average speed of walking predicts longer, healthier life

by | Jul 20, 2011 | Aging gracefully, Brain Health, Exercise, Fitness & Rehab | 0 comments

Why do some seniors experience rapid decline in their daily function while others continue strongly and independently into their nineties and beyond?

A group of researchers in Japan tried to answer this question.

They measured a lot of factors that might influence an individual’s health, longevity and ability to function independently – what doctors call an activities of daily living assessment (the ADL index).

Better Performance on Activities of Daily Living Test

The measurement that was the best predictor of ADL scores was walking speed.

Your age and ability to regulate blood pressure in an acceptable range were also correlated with daily functionality.  But walking speed was the single best predictor.

Other research strengthens these findings. For instance, a study from the University of Pittsburgh that was released in 2007 showed that, among those over age 65, the fastest group of walkers (more than 2.5 mph) had a 90% likelihood of surviving ten years or more compared to only a 20% chance for those in the slowest group (less than 1.5 mph).

What makes this news even better is that there’s no upper age limit to the body’s inner power of regeneration and adaptation. That means anyone, at any age, can improve his or her walking speed. It’s never too late.

And if you’re younger, now’s the time to boost your fitness and develop a reserve tank of energy.

What’s your plan? What are you doing today to enjoy life more fully and build your health?


Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.



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