Walk faster, live longer - report

An extensive study by British researchers has revealed people who walk briskly are expected to live years, even decades, longer than those with a slogging step.

Researchers examined the physical health and walking habits of around 475,000 people over a decade. The results indicated that "self-reported walking pace was a powerful predictor of life expectancy across all levels of BMI," the study reports

The subjects of the study were divided based on waist circumference, body-fat percentage and BMI. Researchers then compared each of their life expectancies to whether they regarded themselves slow, steady or brisk walkers.

"Participants reporting brisk walking pace had longer life expectancies across all levels of BMIs, ranging from 86.7 to 87.8 years in women and 85.2 to 86.8 years in men," the study says.

"Subjects reporting slow walking pace had shorter life expectancies, being the lowest observed in slow walkers with a BMI less than 20kg/㎡ (women: 72.4 years; men: 64.8 years)."

Women with high BMIs lived on average three years longer if they walked briskly than if they walked slowly. In comparison, men's life expectancy increased by approximately 5.5 years.

There was a less noticeable difference in life expectancy between brisk walkers and average-speed, or steady, walkers.

Victoria State Government's Better Health website says adults should walk for around 30 minutes most days of the week for optimum health. Health benefits of regular walking include stronger bones, a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke and reduced body fat.