Your walking pace can predict the risk of dying from heart disease


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A simple question - how fast do you walk? - can help researchers determine who has a higher risk of death from heart disease, according to a new study from the UK.

Your walking pace can predict the risk of dying from heart disease

The researchers found that middle-aged adults who normally walk at a slow pace are about twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who walk at a fast pace.

Results were maintained even after analyzing other factors that could affect outcomes, such as people's exercise habits, their diets, and whether they smoked or drank alcohol.

For the study, researchers monitored 420,000 middle-aged adults for about six years. None of the participants had heart disease at the time of initiation of the study. Participants were asked to rate their usual walking pace as "slow," "stable / average," or "energetic." Individuals also underwent a physical test in a laboratory to determine their fitness levels.

Over the course of the six-year study, about 8,600 of the participants died, and of these, about 1,650 died of heart disease.

People who said they were slow walkers were 1.8 and 2.4 times more likely to die of heart disease, compared to those who said they were energetic walkers.

The risk increases for people with a low body mass index (BMI), which could mean that individuals were malnourished or had high levels of muscle tissue loss due to age (a condition known as sarcopenia), according to the researchers.

The study also found that self-reported walking rhythm of people was strongly linked with their physical fitness levels in the exercise test. In other words, a low level of fitness among slow walkers might explain their increased risk of death from heart disease.

According to author Tom Yates of the University of Leicester, "self-reported walking rhythm could be used to identify individuals who have low levels of physical fitness and, consequently, an increased risk of death from heart disease."

He added that these individuals could benefit from interventions to improve their physical fitness. However, further research is needed to examine the extent to which the gait of people could be used to improve current predictors of risk of death from heart disease.

The study also looked at whether gait was linked to cancer risk, but found no consistent linked.

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