person walking briskly
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 26, 2024 ·  3 min read

How Fast Do You Walk? It Could Predict Your Heart Disease Risk

Walking is a common and beneficial form of exercise, but did you know that your walking speed might reveal important insights about your heart health? Recent studies have highlighted a compelling link between walking pace and the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women.

The Study Overview

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A significant study published in the European Society of Cardiology explored the connection between walking and heart disease risk. The research, conducted by scientists from the United Kingdom, followed over 420,000 middle-aged adults for six years. None of the participants had heart disease at the start of the study.1 Participants were asked to classify their usual walking pace as slow, steady, or brisk, and they also underwent fitness tests in a lab to assess their physical fitness levels.2

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Key Findings

speed walking
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The study found a strong correlation between walking speed and the likelihood of dying from heart disease. Participants who identified as slow walkers were about twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who walked at a brisk pace. This association held true even after adjusting for other risk factors such as exercise habits, diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

The Importance of Walking Pace

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Walking speed appears to be a good indicator of overall physical fitness. Those who reported a slow walking pace generally had lower fitness levels in laboratory tests. According to Professor Tom Yates, a co-author of the study, “self-reported walking pace could be used to identify individuals who have low physical fitness and high mortality risk that would benefit from targeted physical exercise interventions”.

Implications for Heart Health

Hand hold 3d transparent heart shape with cardiogram, heart disease awareness campaign, cardiovascular health, Stroke Prevention, hypertension (high blood pressure) for heart disease concept
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The findings suggest that walking pace could be a simple, self-reported measure to help predict heart disease risk. Individuals who walk slowly might need to be more proactive about improving their physical fitness to lower their risk of heart disease. This could involve incorporating more exercise into their routine, focusing on cardiovascular fitness, and consulting healthcare providers for personalized advice.

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Recommendations for a Healthy Walking Pace

walking and talking
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To maximize the heart health benefits of walking, it’s recommended to walk at a pace where you can hold a conversation but not sing. This brisk pace helps ensure that your heart is getting a good workout without overexertion. Before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing health concerns, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare professional.

Practical Steps to Increase Your Walking Speed

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  1. Set Clear Goals: Aim to gradually increase your walking speed over time.
  2. Use a Pedometer or App: Track your steps and pace to stay motivated and monitor progress.
  3. Incorporate Intervals: Alternate between brisk walking and a slower pace to build endurance.
  4. Strength Training: Improve your overall fitness and walking speed by incorporating strength training exercises.


woman walking with dog
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The speed at which you walk is more than just a matter of fitness—it’s a potential indicator of your heart disease risk. By paying attention to your walking pace and striving to walk briskly, you can take a significant step towards improving your heart health. As the research shows, a simple change in your walking routine could make a substantial difference in your overall health and longevity.

Read More: This Nighttime Symptom Could Be A Telling Sign of Heart Disease


  1. The Way You Walk Can Predict Your Risk of Death from Heart Disease—Here’s Why.Healthy. Alexa Erickson. June 23, 2024.
  2. How Fast Do You Walk? Your Answer Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Disease Death.” Live Science.  Rachael Rettner. August 29, 2017.