Take a walk for long life

Sheila Leiper and Barbara Wakefield run the Health Point Chemist Tweed City Walkers group.
Sheila Leiper and Barbara Wakefield run the Health Point Chemist Tweed City Walkers group. John Gass

A NEW study has found the faster a person walks the longer they live.

University of Pittsburgh researchers followed 34,485 people aged 65 years or older from 1986 to the year 2000.

Researchers tested participants over a distance of eight feet to six metres and found walking speed (gait) can be an indicator of remaining years of life especially in people aged over 75.

“Walking requires energy, movement control and support and places demands on multiple organ systems, including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems,” the University of Pittsburgh study reported.

“Slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high energy cost of walking.”

Gait is as reliable as factors like age, sex, chronic conditions, smoking history and weight at predicting life expectancy.

The findings were not too surprising for Barbara Wakefield and Sheila Leiper from the Health Point Chemist Tweed City Walkers group.

The pair co-ordinates the group, which walks in and around the shopping centre two mornings a week.

“The group is now into its 11th year and was started off by a physio for people who had a heart condition,” Mrs Wakefield said.

“It’s not just about the exercise, the social element of it is very good as well; we have about 33 walkers on the books both women and men.”

Both women have been members of the group since its inception and both have undergone serious operations since that time.

Mrs Wakefield had a double knee replacement six years ago and Mrs Leiper had a hip replacement in April last year and used the weekly sessions to help with her recovery.

“The doctors get you walking straight away so it was very motivational for me to have the walkers group,” she said.

To find out more about the walkers group phone (07) 5524 9892.

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