Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Walking Faster May Lead to a Longer Life

Study Shows a Link Between Walking Speed and Life Span
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 4, 2011 -- A swift stride puts you on the path to a longer, healthier life, researchers say.

Scientists reporting in The Journal of the American Medical Association say that older adults who typically walk 1 meter per second or faster live longer than expected. A walking, or gait, speed of 1 meter per second is equal to 3.28 feet per second.

Walking speed can be an important sign of someone's overall health. A slow walking speed may be due to multiple causes including heart, lung, or nervous system problems, or even joint pain. Several studies have suggested that a person with a walking speed slower than 0.6 meters per second (less than 2 feet per second) may be at increased risk for poor health and function.

Stephanie Studenski, MD, MPH, of the University of Pittsburgh, analyzed the collective results of nine previous studies to determine if walking speed explained survival differences among older adults and whether it could be used to predict longevity.

Study participants walked at their usual pace from a standing start, while researchers calculated distance in meters and time in seconds. The average age of the participants was 73.5; a majority were white women.

Faster Pace Boosts Life Span

The average walking speed for the study participants was 0.92 meters per second, or about 3 feet per second. A person's predicted life expectancy for each sex and age group increased the faster they could walk.

The survival differences were especially notable among patients age 75 and older. The predicted 10-year survival rate varied greatly with walking speeds, from 19% to 87% in men and from 35% to 91% in women.

“Gait speeds of 1.0 meter [3.28 feet]/second or higher consistently demonstrated survival that was longer than expected by age and sex alone. In this older adult population the relationship of gait speed with remaining years of life was consistent across age groups, but the absolute number of expected remaining years of life was larger at younger ages,” the researchers write.

Calculating life expectancy based on walking speed, sex, and age was as accurate as predictions based on other factors, such as age, sex, overall health, mobility, hospitalization, and smoking history.

Today on WebMD

Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
fast healthy snack ideas
how healthy is your mouth
dog on couch
doctor holding syringe
champagne toast
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Man feeding woman
two senior women laughing