Tag Archives: walking

Aging slows down walking speed – What you need to know to improve

I have a Page on the benefits of walking as well as numerous posts on various aspects of the subject. I have called it numerous times, “The Cinderella of the Exercise World” because it is so unappreciated. The following is from the Optimal Aging Portal of McMaster University.

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Walking speed (gait speed) or mobility is necessary for most tasks that humans undertake. Slowing of walking speed is associated with aging in all persons. Walking speed has also been associated both with how long a person will live (survival) and with changes that occur when older persons are having difficulty or become unable to do tasks. In research studies walking ability has been assessed by tests where persons are either asked to walk at their usual speed (sometimes called self-selected walking speed) OR fast walking speed where a person is instructed to walk as fast as they can safely.

How fast do I need to walk to cross the road safely?

To undertake various activities within the community that involve walking, the average distances required to walk vary from 200-600 metres. The task that usually concerns older persons most in relation to walking speed is how quickly they need to walk in order to cross a road safely. The critical speed cited for this task is 1.14 meters/second and has been broken down in the following way:

  • Crossing a 2 lane road (4 metres/lane) in 10 seconds (5 seconds per lane),
  • And 3 seconds to get up and down off either curb (1.5 seconds per curb).
  • The critical speed is 8 metres/7 seconds = 1.14meters/second.

The speed we are able to walk decreases as we age. There are several reports that indicate some normal ranges for older persons. For example, general walking speeds for community activities are 1.2-1.4 metres/sec until 80 years and 1.0-1.8 metres/second until 90 years and older.

Older persons who have a walking speed of less than 1 metre/second have reported ceasing involvement in any regular physical activity. Self-selected walking speed associated with frailty has been reported as less than 0.65 metres/second if you are short (i.e. = 159cm) and 0.75m/sec if you are taller (height >159cm).

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Walk this way – or any way – to better health

For the record, I have written about the benefits of walking numerous times here. You can check out my Page – Why you should walk more.

National Walking Day is Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Established by the American Heart Association and celebrated on the first Wednesday in April, National Walking Day is a day take a walk, move, dance…do whatever works to get you moving and help you kick-off a commitment to a lifetime of healthy living.

The American Heart Association cites research showing the health benefits of regular walking and the importance of safe walking spaces in communities

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Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood or a power-walk in the park, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says taking part in physical activity is one of the best ways to manage stress, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and boost your mood.

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Researchers provide insight into how the brain multitasks while walking

New research turns the old idiom about not being able to walk and chew gum on its head. Scientists with the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have shown that the healthy brain is able to multitask while walking without sacrificing how either activity is accomplished.

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“This research shows us that the brain is flexible and can take on additional burdens,” said David Richardson, an MD/PhD student in his fifth year in the Pathology & Cell Biology of Disease Program, and first author of the study recently published in the journal NeuroImage. “Our findings showed that the walking patterns of the participants improved when they performed a cognitive task at the same time, suggesting they were actually more stable while walking and performing the task than when they were solely focused on walking.”

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Exercise, Not Just Sudoku for Seniors

Grampa, when you finish that puzzle please slip on your walking shoes and step outside.

A lot of senior citizens are doing Sudoku puzzles and crosswords to ‘exercise their brains’ and slow the aging process. These puzzles can be fun, and they do build puzzle-solving skills which are long-lasting. They are not even half the battle against aging, though.

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“Unless the activities that you’re practicing span a broad spectrum of abilities, then there is not a proven general benefit to these mental fitness programs. So, the idea that any single brain exercise program late in life can act as a quick fix for general mental function is almost entirely faith-based,” Professor Wang said in our post on physical exercise vs mental exercise.

Walking, on the other hand, boosts blood flow to the brain. Medicine.net reported that moderate aerobic exercise helps boost blood flow to the brain.
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More on 10,000 steps a day …

Back in August I addressed the concept of ‘10,000 steps a day.’ You can read about it here. Now comes the American Heart Association with further insights into this idea. I have said repeatedly that walking is the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally unappreciated.

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It’s a worthy, healthy goal to take 10,000 steps each day, but that magic number didn’t come from doctors or physical trainers.

In the mid-1960s, Japanese marketers trying to sell a pedometer named it manpo-kei, which generally translates to “10,000 step meter” in English. The Japanese character for “10,000” roughly resembles a person walking.

“It’s a nice clean number and it makes a good marketing message,” said Amanda Paluch, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “You can see why it stuck. But there was not a lot of science behind it.”

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What about 10,000 steps a day?

I have written numerous times that I consider walking to be the Cinderella of the exercise world because there is so little appreciation of it. Possibly, also, because it is a lovely quiet exercise that doesn’t take a lot of exertion despite engaging many of the body’s muscles as well as actually bearing your total body weight. There is an entire Page of posts I have written on walking – Why you should walk more.

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Possibly one of the most widely spread ideas about walking is that a person should try to take 10,000 steps a day. What about that?

Well, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has something to say about that.

Do I really need to take 10,000 steps a day?

“You’ve probably heard that moving 10,000 steps a day is a healthy goal. Some apps and pedometers have 10,000 steps earmarked, so that when you reach it, a congratulations screen dings or vibrates. Not a simple goal as many of us sit more than stand, thanks to driving cars, sitting at office desks, and reclining in chairs at home; in fact the average number of daily steps an American takes is closer to 4,800. [21] It may surprise you that the benchmark number of 10,000 is not actually based on science but was created as a marketing tactic in the 1960s by a company making pedometers.

“So is there any science to support stepping it up? Generally, research finds that more steps are better but even a lower amount can achieve health benefits. A study following 4,840 men and women 40 years of age and older for about 10 years found that those taking at least 8,000 steps daily had a 51% lower death rate from all causes compared with those taking 4,000 steps or fewer. [20] A large cohort of more than 16,000 older American women (mean age 72 years) from the Women’s Health Study followed for 4 years found that those taking 4,400 steps a day had a 41% lower death rate compared with those taking about 2,700 steps a day. [21] Death rates continued to drop in relation to taking more steps up to 7,500 daily, but steps beyond that did not show additional benefit.

“Although these studies confirm that taking more steps is good, the exact amount to see a health benefit will vary among individuals. The guideline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “move more and sit less throughout the day; some physical activity is better than none” remains an appropriate goal for everyone. [2] There’s nothing wrong with aiming for 10,000 steps or even higher, except when it becomes so daunting that you lose motivation, or you feel discouraged that a lesser amount is not good enough. Rather than feeling chained to a specific step count, listen to your body, challenge it, and feel good about what it can accomplish.”

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More reasons to walk there …

I have written time and again about the benefits of walking. Here is a lovely little graphic that shows you some of the wonderful things that happen when you … walk. To learn more about this simple, but beautiful exercise, check out my PageWhy you should walk more.

Tony

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Stretching more effective than walking to lower high blood pressure: Study

A new University of Saskatchewan (USask) study has found that stretching is superior to brisk walking for reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure or who are at risk of developing elevated blood pressure levels.

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Walking has long been the prescription of choice for physicians trying to help their patients bring down their blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and among the top preventable risk factors affecting overall mortality.

This new finding, published December 18, 2020 in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, shows that stretching should be part of a well-rounded treatment plan for people wrestling with hypertension.

“Everyone thinks that stretching is just about stretching your muscles,” said kinesiology professor Dr. Phil Chilibeck (PhD), a co-author of the study. “But when you stretch your muscles, you’re also stretching all the blood vessels that feed into the muscle, including all the arteries. If you reduce the stiffness in your arteries, there’s less resistance to blood flow,” he said, noting that resistance to blood flow increases blood pressure.

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Walking: Key To Staying Active and Independent – Tufts

Some years ago, I described walking as the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally unappreciated. Thankfully, more and more people are stepping up and stepping out. Here is what the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has to say about walking.

Did you get your 10,000 steps today? Many people have adopted this daily walking goal to obtain the recommended amount of physical activity. The 10,000-steps-a-day number comes from the Japanese brand name of a pedometer manufactured in the 1960s, the “10,000 steps meter.” In the Fitbit era, counting daily steps remains appealing to many people as a source of motivation.

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In the US, adults are urged to get the equivalent of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Walking is a popular way to meet those recommendations, particularly in older adults or people who are relatively physically inactive.

Although 10,000 steps is a worthy challenge, aiming for more exercise than you normally get—unless you are one of the few who regularly trains for marathons or triathlons—comes with benefits. Any amount or type of physical activity adds to your daily goal. Regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from your destination, can make a measurable improvement in your health.

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Walking: Key To Staying Active and Independent

Did you get your 10,000 steps today? Many people have adopted this daily walking goal to obtain the recommended amount of physical activity. The 10,000-steps-a-day number comes from the Japanese brand name of a pedometer manufactured in the 1960s, the “10,000 steps meter.” In the Fitbit era, counting daily steps remains appealing to many people as a source of motivation.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

In the US, adults are urged to get the equivalent of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Walking is a popular way to meet those recommendations, particularly in older adults or people who are relatively physically inactive.

Although 10,000 steps is a worthy challenge, aiming for more exercise than you normally get—unless you are one of the few who regularly trains for marathons or triathlons—comes with benefits. Any amount or type of physical activity adds to your daily goal. Regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from your destination, can make a measurable improvement in your health.

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Higher daily step count linked with lower all-cause mortality – NIH

This is most welcome information by my reckoning. When we are all staying-at-home these days, I love being reminded that it pays health dividends to get out and move. This bloody virus is not going to last forever. Walking is still superb exercise. Check out my Page – Why you should walk more for further information.

greyscale photo of couple walking across the road

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In a new study, higher daily step counts were associated with lower mortality risk from all causes. The research team, which included investigators from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), both parts of the National Institutes of Health, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also found that the number of steps a person takes each day, but not the intensity of stepping, had a strong association with mortality.

The findings were published March 24, 2020, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Continue reading

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Number of steps per day more important than step intensity

I have written repeatedly about the benefits of walking, calling it the ‘Cinderella of the exercise world.’ Now, according the the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it seems that quantity equals quality in walking.

person in black socks and black sneakers walking on gray asphalt road

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  • Adults who took 8,000 or more steps a day had a reduced risk of death over the following decade than those who only walked 4,000 steps a day.
  • Step intensity (number of steps per minute) didn’t influence the risk of death, suggesting that the total number of steps per day is more important than intensity.

Doctors often recommend walking as an easy way for inactive people to ease into better health. Taking 4,000 or fewer steps a day is considered a low level of physical activity. A goal of 10,000 steps a day is commonly cited, but recent studies have shown that health benefits accrue even if fewer than 10,000 steps are taken daily. Continue reading

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Walking improves vision – Study

As a big fan of walking I was thrilled to learn of this further benefit to the Cinderella of the exercise world. Walking leads to an increase of peripheral visual input, according to a study from the University of Wurzburg.

How do we perceive our environment? What is the influence of sensory stimuli on the peripheral nervous system and what on the brain? Science has an interest in this question for many reasons. In the long term, insights from this research could contribute to a better understanding of diseases such as ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.

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The topography of the EEG response (l) and its localization in the brain (r) show visual sensory processing during the walking conditions slow and normal – green and red, and standing – black. The image is credited to Barbara Händel.

Perception and the underlying neuronal activities are usually measured while subjects are sitting or lying, for example while doing magnetic resonance imaging. As a rule, the head is fixed and people are encouraged not to blink. The measurements therefore take place under well-controlled but rather unnatural conditions. Continue reading

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The benefits of interval walking …


In Japan, health-conscious folks have been known to carry around pedometers to track the number of steps they walk everyday. The target number: 10,000 steps, as a foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

photo of people walking on street

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Conscientious walkers can now update their device from a pedometer to a smartphone and forget about ten thousand steps with the latest study from Dr. Shizue Masuki of Shinshu University who found an effective way to increase overall fitness and decrease lifestyle-related disease (LSD) through Interval Walking Training (IWT). It’s not how much you walk, but how intensely you do so for a minimum amount of time to get positive results. This finding may be welcome news for those who want to save time and get the most out of their workout.

Interval Walking Training is the method of walking at 70% of the walker’s maximum capacity for 3 minutes, then at 40% of their capacity for the next 3 minutes. This is continued for 5 or more sets. Dr. Masuki studied a group of 679 participants with a medium age of 65 over the course of 5 months. Every two weeks data was collected from participants at a local community office and via the internet through the data measuring device (triaxial accelerometer). The triaxial accelerometer is a device that beeped to let the walker know when they were at least 70% of their peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak), and at 3 minutes to switch. It recorded their walking data to the central server at the administrative center for automatic analysis.

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Walking patterns identify specific dementia type – Study

Walking may be a key clinical tool in helping medics accurately identify the specific type of dementia a patient has, pioneering research has revealed.

For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy body dementia have unique walking patterns that signal subtle differences between the two conditions.

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Gait Lab photo

The research, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, shows that people with Lewy body dementia change their walking steps more – varying step time and length – and are asymmetric when they move, in comparison to those with Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a first significant step towards establishing gait as a clinical biomarker for various subtypes of the disease and could lead to improved treatment plans for patients.

Useful diagnostic tool

Dr Ríona McArdle, Post-Doctoral Researcher at Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, led the Alzheimer’s Society-funded research.

She said: “The way we walk can reflect changes in thinking and memory that highlight problems in our brain, such as dementia.

“Correctly identifying what type of dementia someone has is important for clinicians and researchers as it allows patients to be given the most appropriate treatment for their needs as soon as possible.

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Harvesting energy from walking

I consider walking to be the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally unappreciated – for all its good works in our health regimen. You can check out my Page – Why you should walk more to read further on its benefits.

Imagine powering your devices by walking. With technology recently developed by a group of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, that possibility might not be far out of reach.

grayscale photography of five people walking on road

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The group describes the technology in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing. An energy harvester is attached to the wearer’s knee and can generate 1.6 microwatts of power while the wearer walks without any increase in effort. The energy is enough to power small electronics like health monitoring equipment and GPS devices. Continue reading

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