3 Reasons Why You Should Walk Faster

Businessman standing on a pedestrian crossing
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Do you notice everyone else passing you by while you’re ambling down the street? Here are three reasons why you might want to pick up the pace.

You’ll Lower Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death

Much research has looked at—and shown—the benefits of increased intensity when it comes to exercise and physical activity. In the Nurses’ Health Study, for instance, those who walked briskly or otherwise achieved moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes every day had a low risk of sudden cardiac death during 26 years of follow-up.

Other research has shown that walking can prevent dementia better than any number of crossword puzzles can.

Most national and international guidelines recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. What counts as moderate-intensity exercise? Physical activities such as general gardening, brisk walking, ballroom dancing, and the equivalent fall into the category of moderate-intensity exercise. Note here that it is brisk walking that is included.

Brisk walking counts as aerobic exercise, and the benefits of aerobic exercise extend far beyond the act of exercise alone. One study of nearly 100 obese older adults found that those who added exercise to their dietary weight-loss strategies had greater improvement in physical function. Other studies have found that aerobic exercise can improve lung function, obstructive sleep apnea, and may even help prevent or delay cognitive decline.

You’ll Improve Your Overall Mobility

Other studies have found that walking speed in the elderly is a predictor of both quality of life and overall longevity. Staying active with brisk walking improves cardiovascular fitness, bone density, joint mobility, lung function, and even brain function—all of which translate into better quality of life over the long run as well as increased longevity.

You'll Burn More Calories

Due to the greater physical effort required, walking faster will burn more calories than walking slower for the same period of time. Walking briskly will also tone and build lean muscle to a greater extent than slow walking, and increasing your lean muscle mass can, in turn, increase your basal metabolic rate. This will help you burn more calories not only during exercise, but also while your body is at rest.

Thus, if you are struggling with overweight or obesity and are wondering how to fit more physical activity into your lifestyle, one of the easiest ways to do this is simply to pick up your pace. Move more each day—and walk a little faster.


Chiuve SE, Fung TT, Rexrode KM, Spiegelman D, et al. Adherence to a low-risk, healthy lifestyle and risk of sudden cardiac death among women. JAMA 2011; 306:62-69.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed online at http://health.gov/PAGuidelines/ on June 12, 2014.

Washburn RA, Szabo AN, Lambourne K, et al. Does the method of weight loss effect long-term changes in weight, body composition or chronic disease risk factors in overweight or obese adults? A systematic review. PLoS One 2014;9:e109849.

Johns DJ, Hartmann-Boyce J, Jebb SA, et al. Diet or exercise intervention vs combined behavioral weight management programs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of direct comparisons. J Acad Nutr Diet 2014;114:1557-1568.

Villareal DT, Chode S, Parimi N, et al. Weight loss, exercise, or both and physical function in obese older adults. N Engl J Med 2011;364:1218-1229.

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