Have you ever wondered how fast you’d need to move to win a footrace against the Grim Reaper? Researchers at Concord Hospital in Sydney claim to have the answer.

According to data published in the British Medical Journal (2011; 343:d7679), men aged 70 and older who regularly walk at a faster pace are likely to live longer than those who walk more slowly. The study included 1,705 men who provided data for an average of almost 60 months. The individuals gave information via telephone at regular intervals and were assessed by clinicians twice during the study. By the end of the intervention, 266 of the participants had died. According to the report, the average walking speed of those who had died was around 0.88 meters (m) per second. Those clocking in at 1.36 m per second, or about 5 kilometers per hour, had not yet died at the conclusion of the study.

“This supports our hypothesis that faster speeds are protective against mortality,” the study authors reported. “This study has important implications for clinical practice and the development of future strategies for health
promotion in older people.”