Walking briskly slows down aging

from Cristina Marrone

British researchers estimate fast walking could reduce cellular age by 16: link found between rapid movement and telomere length

The question is asked by many: how do you live longer (and healthier)? The elixir of life has not yet been found, but slowing down the biological aging process seems possible. At least according to what a group of British researchers from theUniversity of Leicester who discovered a link between the way we walk and how we age. Scientists, who have published the work on Communications Biology
they estimate that fast walking could reduce our biological life by 16 yearsat the cellular level.

The telomeres

The researchers found a link between brisk walking and telomere length, small portions of DNA that are found at the ends of each chromosome and protect it from damage: to make a comparison, they are like the caps at the ends of the shoelaces that prevent the laces from unraveling. Each time a cell divides, these telomeres become shorter, to a point where they become so short that the cell can no longer divide, a process known as replicative senescence. These biomarkers they naturally decrease as we age but research has shown that certain situations such as stress, lack of sleep and demanding work can accelerate their reduction. For this reason, scientists consider the length of telometers as a strong indicator of biological age (i.e. how much the body’s cells are consuming), which can be very different from age.

I study

They were involved in the study 400,000 British adults. Scientists have found that whoever used to walk a brisk pace looked up to 16 years younger in terms of biological age, once you reach middle age. It was not necessary to carry out any particular physical activity: the discriminating factor was the speed of the step and walking does not require special training or equipment. The intensity of movement during walking was measured by devices that are worn on the wrist and allow for measuring physical activity. By crossing these data with genetic ones, the researchers found a causal link between fast walking and telomere length, independent of any physical activity. L’intensity of movement seems important: A leisurely walk doesn’t seem to have the same effect as a brisk walk, although any kind of movement is good for you. Walking speed itself is affected by a number of factors such as lung capacity, movement control, mental health and motivation levels.

Fast walking as an indicator of health

The researchers suggest that doctors might consider quick walking as an indicator of overall health. Our study tells us that measures such as a habitually slower walking speed are a simple way to identify people at increased risk of chronic disease or poor aging and that intensity of activity can play an important role in optimizing the interventions says the study’s lead author Dr. Paddy Dempsey. A few examples? walk quickly to the subway station or to pick up the children from school. There are countless opportunities to pick up the pace.


Researchers from the University of Leicester a few years ago had shown, always using the British biobank, that too only 10 minutes of brisk walking per day was associated with a longer life expectancy and that those who walk briskly had a life expectancy of up to 20 years longer than those who walk slowly. While we have previously shown walking pace to be an important predictor of health, we had not been able to confirm that adopting a fast pace actually generated better health. In this study, however, we used the information contained in the genetic profile of people to show that a faster pace is highly likely to lead to a younger biological age, as measured by telomeres, he concludes. Tom Yatessenior author and professor of physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester.

May 1, 2022 (change May 1, 2022 | 19:35)

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Walking briskly slows down aging

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