Study suggests that walking speed of
middle-aged individuals could act as a predictor for risk of heart disease.
The findings show that men and women
who reported slow walking showed a 2-fold increase in cardiovascular mortality
risk compared with those who reported brisk walking.
Self-reported walking pace might be
able to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy body mass index (BMI).
Several research studies have identified the link between fitness
measures and associated mortality risk. Cardiorespiratory fitness is the form
of physical fitness that has been extensively studied related to cardiovascular
(heart) related mortalities. A study conducted at the University of Leicester
has identified that self-reported slow walking pace in middle-aged individuals
is directly related to low cardiovascular health. The study has been published
in the European Heart Journal.
Physical fitness and
is a state of health and
well-being that allows an individual to perform physical activities. In case of
heart related fitness, cardiorespiratory fitness is the most extensively
studied due to its relation with mortality risk. Cardiorespiratory fitness
is the ability of the
body's circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel or energy during long
periods of physical activity. Studies have shown that cardiorespiratory fitness
is inversely related to cardiovascular mortality. This means that low
cardiorespiratory fitness correlates with higher chances of heart related
deaths. It also poses as an efficient risk predictor when compared to the
convention risk factors like blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol
, diabetes and age.
‘Middle aged people who report to be slow walkers could be at higher risk for heart disease compared to the general population.’
Although measuring cardiorespiratory
fitness is a good predictor of heart health, clinical practice is limited as it
is time consuming and requires special equipment and resources. This makes it
necessary to develop other easy to administer techniques to measure
cardiorespiratory fitness and ultimately heart health
This study was conducted on 420,727 middle-aged men and women across
UK. The data was collected between 2006 and 2010 and analyzed by the UK
Biobank. It was ensured that at the time of collection all participants were
free from cancer and heart diseases. The participants were followed for a
period of 6 years after data collection and in that time there were 8598 deaths;
4850 due to cancer and 1654 due to cardiovascular
Professor Tom Yates, Principal Investigator for the study, said:
"Our study was interested in the links between whether someone said they walked
at a slow, steady or brisk pace and whether that could predict their risk of
dying from heart disease or cancer in the future."
Researchers investigated the association of self-reported walking
speed and handgrip strength to mortality risk due to heart diseases. The
participants were asked to report their walking pace as slow, steady/moderate
Men and women who reported slower
walking speeds showed a two fold increase in cardiovascular mortality risk
compared to those who reported brisk walking.
Self-reported walking pace might be
able to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy BMI. However, this need not be true as
participants with lower BMIs may report slower walking pace due to other
diseases or illness.
Handgrip strength was not associated
with cardiovascular mortality in women but men in the lowest group of handgrip
strength had 44% higher risk of cardiovascular mortality. However, the study
concluded that this was a weak predictor of heart-related health and does not
apply across the population.
- Grøntved, A., & Hu, F. B. (2017). Walking pace and handgrip strength: simple measures of fitness and mortality risk? European Heart Journal.doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehx497