Is walking alone enough to keep us fit? It all depends on how fast you’re moving.Thomas Yates, a professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester in the U.K., has researched the effects of walking at different paces and recently publisheda studythat shows the speed you walk at is a good indicator of how fit you are. And going faster definitely comes with some benefits.
The study reveals that people who walk slowly are four times more likely to die from severe cases of COVID and have more than double the chance of contracting a severe case than brisk walkers. Yates explains that fast walkers generally have good cardiovascular and heart health, making them more resilient to “external stressors,” like viral infections. “Nothing will give you quite the benefit that brisk walking does unless it’s running — and it’s as good as running,” Yates says.
If that’s not enough to get you to pick up the pace, the exercise professor shares something that might. “Fast walkers can live up to 20 years longer,” Yates says. “It improves cardiovascular fitness, which is a measure of how efficient your heart is, and your ability to utilize oxygen, which is an indicator of fitness.” But how fast is brisk walking, exactly? He says three miles an hour or 100 steps a minute is the minimum.