Strollers take note, walking fast could add years to your life.

According to a study published in June by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, people who habitually walk fast can add, on average, 15 to 20 years to their lives.

The U.K.-based study included almost 475,000 people with an average age of 58.

For women, being a fast walker increased life expectancy as much as 15 years; from 64.8 to 87.8. And the impact on men was even greater, with life expectancy increasing from 64.8 to 86.8 years.

And the life-extending benefit from walking fast (participants self-defined their pace as either slow, steady/average or brisk) was seen regardless of one’s weight — from underweight to morbidly obese.

“Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on life expectancy of individuals,” said lead author Tom Yates, a professor of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health at the University of Leicester.

“In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI), and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”

Last year, in a study using the same data, Yates and his team found that middle-aged people who reported being slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population. And, slow walkers were twice as likely to have a heart-related death as fast walkers.

So, it’s clear we could benefit from picking up the pace and, as Harvard Health reports, here’s five other ways walking —fast and not — has been found to help our health:

  • Walking briskly for an hour each day reduces the effect of weight-promoting genes by 50 per cent
  • A 15-minute walk can curb chocolate cravings — even in stressful situations
  • Women who walk seven or more hours a week have a 14 per cent lower risk of breast cancer as compared to those who walk three hours or less a week
  • Walking can help relieve arthritis pain and, getting five to six miles in per week can even prevent arthritis altogether
  • People who walk at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 times a week, have 43 per cent fewer sick days

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