How many times has it happened, you’re going about your business, living your life, traversing the urban obstacle course that is New York at a brisk clip, when all of a sudden you’re caught behind a throng of witless tourists, moseying and meandering down the sidewalk with little regard for the flow of pedestrian traffic? Um, plenty I reckon. Being a fleet fellow myself, I know it drives me to frothing distraction. It’s accepted as one of the many hindrances of the speed-walking city dweller. But, heed this, those lazy tourists MAY ALSO BE KILLING YOU!
Because, according to an article in New York magazine, not only is walking good for you, but walking fast helps you live longer.
Eleanor Simonsick, a Baltimore-based epidemiologist, knew that regular walking is a powerful way to maintain your health. But she began to wonder, a question very germane to us in New York: Does the speed at which you walk also affect your health?
She decided to conduct an experiment to find out. She and a group of scientists assembled 3,075 seniors in their seventies and asked them to traverse a 400-meter course, walking as fast as they could. They monitored their subjects’ health over the next six years, during which time 430 of the geriatrics died and many more fell ill. When Simonsick crunched the data, she found that the ones who were dying and getting sick were the ones who walked the slowest. For every minute longer it took someone to complete the 400-meter walk, he had a 29 percent higher chance of mortality and a 52 percent greater chance of being disabled. People who walk faster live longer—and enjoy better health in their later years.
“Walking speed absolutely reflects health status,” Simonsick says. So when you irritatedly blow past a trio of ambling visitors from Ohio or Iowa on the subway platform, you’re not just being an obnoxious New Yorker. You’re demonstrating that you’re going to outlive them—and enjoy better health while they slowly degrade.
Every second they slow you down may be a second off your life. So, don’t feel bad about shoving a lollygagging out-of-towner when you’re in a hurry. It’s survival of the fittest!