Next time you go for a walk, you might want to move as if death himself is tailing you--because in a way, he is.
And while he catches up to all of us eventually, a new study finds that slower walkers are more likely to meet him first.
Researchers analyzed data from nine studies involving almost 35,000 seniors who didn't live in hospitals or nursing homes, and found that walking speeds were a reliable indicator of how long someone could expect to live.
Yes, I started walking faster too when I read that.
Overall, the researchers found that seniors who can keep up a 2.2 mph pace (that's 3.28 feet per second) tended to live longer than could be expected... while those who walked at less than 1.3 miles per hour (or less than 2 feet per second) tended to have a higher risk of an early death.
And faster walkers were more likely to live even longer.
For example, a 70-year-old man who cruises along at 3.5 miles per hour will live four years longer on average than a man the same age who walks at 3 miles per hour.
Similarly, a 70-year-old man of that age who walks at 2.5 miles per hour will live an average of 8 years longer than men who walk at just 1 mile per hour.
For women, those differences were even greater: seven and ten years, respectively, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The differences got even bigger as the years went on. The researchers say men and women at 75 who walked the fastest could expect to live up to 87 percent and 91 percent longer, respectively, than those who walked the slowest.
If that has you itchin' to boost your own walking speed, consider having a friend join you... and not just any friend, but a furry one.
One surprising study from 2009 found that seniors who walk dogs walk faster and more often than those who walk with other people.
In that study, seniors who walked dogs borrowed from a local shelter had a 28 percent boost in walking speed over 12 weeks--versus an improvement of just 4 percent in those who walked with another person.
And while the volunteers who walked with other people often made excuses and found reasons to skip their walks, the dog-walkers were eager to meet their canine companions each day.
In other words, call your local animal shelter today--because they may have a life-saving walking buddy ready to meet you.