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Walking Can Help Older Adults Live Longer


A new study adds to the evidence that walking has a longevity benefit. It suggests older adults who walk regularly have a greater likelihood of living longer — even if their weekly walking time falls short of the recommended guidelines.

Federal directives advise adults up to age 64 to get 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Only half of adults in this age group and 42 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 comply with this admonition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Walking is the most popular form of exercise, and it has been linked to a lower risk of serious maladies, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as both breast and colon cancer. In addition, limited research associates walking with a reduced risk of premature death.

To learn more about the longevity benefit of walking, scientists examined data from nearly 140,000 adults in their 60s, 70s and 80s who were participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Every two years, the individuals completed health surveys that included questions about how much time per week they spent exercising and what activities comprised of their regular exercise routines.

Approximately 95 percent reported some walking, and nearby half reported that walking was their sole form of exercise. A small proportion of between 5.8 percent of men and 6.6 percent of women said that they engaged in no exercise. The participants were followed 12 years, during which time 34,000 died.

Walking Linked to Lower All-Cause Mortality Risk

After adjusting the results for risk factors, such as obesity, smoking and chronic disease, the study found even some walking was beneficial. Those who exercised less than 2 hours per week and whose workouts consisted solely of walking had a lower all-cause mortality rate compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. Participants who walked between 2.5 to 5 hours per week had a 20-percent reduced mortality risk.

The walking-only form of exercise was most strongly tied to a reduced respiratory disease mortality, as those in the most active group of 6 hours per week had a 35-percent decreased risk compared to those in the least active group. Participants in the walking-only regimen also had a 20-percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and a 9-percent lower risk of cancer mortality.

“Walking has been described as the ‘perfect exercise’ because it is simple, free, convenient, doesn’t require any special equipment or training, and can be done at any age,” said lead author Dr. Alpa Patel. “With the near doubling of adults aged 65 and older expected by 2030, clinicians should encourage patients to walk even if less than the recommended amount, especially as they age, for health and longevity.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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