Our Philadelphia Physical Therapist Team pointed us to this important article from IdeaFit. It focuses on the relationship between your walking speed and your health.

You might wonder why we keep coming back to the importance of walking.

Well, as the article notes, there has been a huge amount of research into walking speed and aging in the past few years. And while the research focused on older adults, everyone at elevate Health & Performance believes there are great take-aways for every age.

Study after study has shown that with older people walking speed alone is an almost linear – predictor of health and longevity. Regardless of your age.

“It’s just walking. What gives?” you might ask.

Well, even here at elevate Health & Performance™ we can forget that walking is a complex activity.  

But as our Philadelphia Physical Therapist Team points out:

Among other things, you have to be able to stand. That’s a measure of strength.

You have to be able to balance. That involves your brain and your neuromuscular system coordinating perception.

And you have to be able to move. That involves your circulatory system – if you can’t get enough oxygen you can’t move

Taken together you’ve got a pretty good baseline for your body’s status.

So what may your walking speed mean? And what’s an appropriate healthy pace?

  • If you walk at a pace less than 1.5 miles-per-hour, you are possibly heading towards declining health.
  • A pace of 1.8 to 2.0 miles-per-hour is the median walking speed across age groups. You might want to work on upping the pace.
  • A pace of 2.2+ miles-per-hour suggests healthy aging and improved longevity.

(If you’re not sure what you’re walking speed is – just contact us. And an exercise physiologist or Philadelphia Physical Therapist can help in just a few minutes).

How can you improve your walking speed?

We suggest that you walk on a treadmill. If that’s not an option choose a level surface with good traction.

Set the treadmill to the pace where you feel comfortable. After a bit increase the speed slightly – say 5 % or so – for 15 to 20 seconds. Then slow down for 30 to 40 seconds. Repeat this 6 to 10 times.

We suggest that you do this 3 to 4 times per week. Your speed and confidence will increase. And, your health will improve too.