Researchers in the U.K. recently found that walking pace at middle age determines a lot about your future health.
For the study, researchers collected four years’ worth of data on nearly 420,727 people. All the participants were free from cancer and heart disease at the study’s outset.
Over the next six years, 8,598 men and women died — 1,654 from cardiovascular disease and 4,850 from cancer. (Curiously, the researchers didn’t discuss the high number of cancer deaths relative to heart disease deaths. That’s something I would like to have seen discussed.)
Those who walked slowly were twice as likely to suffer death due to heart disease. The researchers controlled to eliminate other risk factors that might have influenced the results, such as diet, body mass index, smoking, or sedentary lifestyle from watching TV.
Overall, they found that walking pace is a good measure of physical fitness. By contrast, handgrip strength was a weak predictor of heart disease deaths in men. Furthermore, handgrip strength could not be generalized as a risk factor for the population as a whole.
There was no pattern to walking pace or handgrip strength when it came to predicting cancer deaths.
Key nutrient helps improve gait
I often report that gait, or walking ability and pace, is the single best predictor of longevity and overall physical performance (I discuss this in the November issue of Insiders’ Cures. You can access this online by visiting DrMicozzi.com, clicking “Subscribers,” then logging in with your username and password. If you’re not yet a subscriber of my monthly newsletters, now’s a great time to sign up.)
Fortunately, key dietary constituents can help improve gait. For example, research strongly links regular consumption of aspal (also known as rooibos or South African red bush) with improved gait and physical performance in middle-aged men.
Other studies show that aspal works by powering the mitochondria — your cells’ energy factories. Aspal also hydrates the body on a cellular level, benefiting your muscles and physical performance.
You can get 100 percent pure aspal as a water-soluble powder and as an ingredient in other supplements. For more information on the benefits of aspal, visit DrMicozzi.com. You can use the search bar to discover more from my archives.
Drugs can slow you down
Unfortunately, as I discuss in this month’s Insiders’ Cures newsletter, the American Geriatrics Society found that older adults who take five or more medications walk more slowly than those who take fewer medications.
So — don’t let yourself get caught up taking too many drugs. They’ll slow you down — and that’s yet one more way drugs can kill you.
But remember — the other end of the spectrum isn’t healthy either. As I always advise, excessive exercise damages the joints and heart muscle over the long-term. It also causes short-term damage to your GI tract and kidneys, leading to lasting consequences. In fact, too much exercise can cause your abdominal organs to shut down — you can go into shock from the stress. I will report on more shocking, new studies that show the dangers of anything more than moderate exercise in Dispatches later this month and next month.
More isn’t better when it comes to exercise and longevity. In fact, in a recent study, men and women who exercised just one to two hours a week gained almost as many benefits, in terms of increased longevity, as those who exercised seven and a half hours a week.
Go for a walk after dinner a few times a week and focus on moderately increasing your walking pace if you are not already a fast walker. Living longer is just that simple.
“Association of walking pace and handgrip strength with all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: a UK Biobank observational study,” European Heart Journal 2017; 00: 1–9