images (12)What’s the problem? So many of us in our 50’s and 60’s are starting to look so old!  Oh, I realize some of us don’t want to flame our hair red or wear contact lenses or high heels or short and sassy skirts. But that’s not the issue.

The real reason we look so old is that we move and walk like old people. So how’s that? Many of us move oh-so-slowly…….from the chair, out the door, to the car. We look like a film in slow motion.  Everything we do is deliberate, time-consuming, monotonously lagging.

Some of us even rock from side to side, rather like large crabs! What’s the issue? Well, many of us are overweight, for starters. That worked okay with momentum when we were younger, as we had the muscle power and balance to kind of push things along.  But not now!

Did you know that speed of gait indicates the potential for longevity? I can vouch for that. My mother sped along like a busy ant for years, and I was hard-pressed to keep up with her when she was on a mission. She lived to be 92, by the way.

Scientific American states that: ‘A new analysis shows that—down to the tenth of a meter per second—an older person’s pace, along with their age and gender, can predict their life expectancy just as well as the complex battery of other health indicators. 

So instead of a doctor assessing a patient’s blood pressure, body mass index, chronic conditions, hospitalization and smoking history and the use of a mobility aid  to estimate survival, a lab assistant could simply time the patient walking a few meters and predict just as accurately the person’s likelihood of living five or 10 more years—as well as a median life expectancy. ‘

Walking speed can determine the difference in your chronological age……..and your biological age. It’s amazing how constant a person’s walking speed can be, too. Walking speed, of course, is determined by many factors, such as the level of muscular function and balance, for instance.

Will commanding a terse, ‘Pick it up!’ Have a bearing on someone’s  life expectancy?

Well, walking as consistently and rapidly as possible has been shown to be a definite mood elevator. Some studies showed it worked as well as antidepressant medications when done consistently. Improved mood is shown to have a strong bearing on how healthy a person’s immune system can be.  Other studies confirm what most of us know: walking lowers blood pressures and glucose levels and eventually, weight. In fact, lowered glucose levels is nothing to sneeze at if a person is type 2 diabetic. Scientific American states that habitual walking has been linked to slower memory decline and reduced risk of certain cancers, all part of the cluster flack associated with type 2 diabetes.

One of the other reasons we look so old is the factor of hunching. You know, that ‘lead with the neck’ posture that many of us have habituated to? Enough of that! Stand up as straight as possible when walking and be mindful of it. The muscles holding you all together will get it together with practice.

It sounds like we may just be healthier and live longer if we walk every day…….and faster,  huh? So, pick up your feet and Move it!