A new study conducted on older people who are active has found that walking may not be as effective as running when it comes to reversing aging. Does that mean you need to increase the pace of your exercises?
Walking is certainly a very good exercise. Seniors who regularly walk report fewer incidences of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and obesity than their sedentary counterparts. For years, scientists and doctors have considered the ability to walk well as a major indication of good health for older people.
Walking speed, however, declines with age for most people. As people get older, they start finding walking quite difficult and fatiguing.
Most of us just assume that physical decline is inevitable with growing age. After all, even physiologists have invariably witnessed the reduction of walking pace over time.
Some researchers of the University of Colorado and of the Humboldt State University, however, wanted to really find out if that is true. They wondered whether physical fatigue may be possible to reduce with the help of some activity, like running.
They quickly got to work and found 30 male and female volunteers from walking groups, gyms and other places in the Boulder region. They chose volunteers aged between late 60s and early 70s.
15 among the 30 volunteers were asked to walk three times or more in a week for about 30 minutes, and the rest 15 were asked to run three times or more. Different participants ran at different paces. But, most seemed to move at a jogging speed gently!
As New York Times wrote:
The scientists gathered all of the volunteers at the University of Colorado’s Locomotion Laboratory and had each runner and walker complete three brief sessions of walking at three different, steadily increasing speeds on specially equipped treadmills. The treadmills were designed to measure how the volunteers’ feet hit the ground, in order to assess their biomechanics.
The volunteers also wore masks that measured their oxygen intake, data that the researchers used to determine their basic walking economy.
As it turned out, the runners were better, more efficient walkers than the walkers. They required less energy to move at the same pace as the volunteers who only walked regularly.
In fact, when the researchers compared their older runners’ walking efficiency to that of young people, which had been measured in earlier experiments at the same lab, they found that 70-year-old runners had about the same walking efficiency as your typical sedentary college student. Old runners, it appeared, could walk with the pep of young people.
Older walkers, on the other hand, had about the same walking economy as people of the same age who were sedentary. In effect, walking did not prevent people from losing their ability to walk with ease.
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