If you have heart disease you’d better pick up the pace with your walking if you want to avoid hospitalizations.
Slow walkers with heart disease are doomed to more frequent hospitalizations, says a study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (April 2018).
• 1,078 patients with high blood pressure.
• 85% had coronary heart disease.
• 15% had valve disease of the heart.
• Participants were asked to walk one kilometer (about a mile) on a treadmill at a speed that they perceived as medium intensity.
• Slow walking was 2.6 km/hour; medium was 3.9 km/hour; fast was 5.1 km/hour.
• 359 participants were slow walkers; 362 were intermediate; 357 were fast.
Patients were Followed for Three Years
And there were hospitalizations during those three years; the researchers recorded ALL of them, regardless of cause, and also length of hospital stay.
- The paper says that a slower walking speed is a marker of limited mobility.
- Limited mobility, in turn, is a forerunner of disease and disability.
• Slow walkers: 182 had at least one hospitalization.
• Medium walkers: 160
• Fast: 110
Average Length of Hospital Stay
• 23 for slow walkers
• 14 for intermediate
• 9 for fast
Slow walkers had a 63 percent higher likelihood of hospitalization in three years.
Quite simply, the faster the person’s walking speed, the lower the risk for hospitalization — and — the shorter the hospital stay, says the research.
How to Become a Faster Walker
- Not just during walking sessions for exercise
- In everyday life — on the job, at the mall, even in the house
When I was a personal trainer I encouraged clients to walk with a perk in day-to-day life, as a permanent habit. So many people shuffle when they walk. This discourages the body from being efficient at ambulation.
Don’t let slow pokes ahead of you slow you down if there’s no room to walk past that person.
It’s perfectly okay to say “Pardon me” as you’re coming up behind them. Yes, there’ll always be a small percentage who mind this, but hey, it’s YOUR heart health, not theirs, that’s at stake here. But be polite; no need to be gruff.
Pick up your pace any chance you get, including the steps you take from your car at the gas tank to the doors of the gas station.
And of course, if you’ve been using a treadmill or doing walking for exercise outdoors, go faster.
But do not hold onto the treadmill, as this defeats the purpose of the exercise.
If you don’t have heart disease, same thing: Avoid slow walking. It’s just plain bad for the body.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.