Why walking alone may be better for fitness

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Many of us make a point of heading out for a walk at least once a day.

But if you tend to go out for a stroll with a pal or partner on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the pace.

As part of a new study, researchers from Purdue University analysed the walking times and gait speeds of 141 individuals from 72 couples.

Accordingly, they found that couples often decreased their speed when walking together, while the pace declined further if the pair was holding hands.

“We were hoping that there would not be a reduction in speed where partners walked together. We hoped that slower partners would speed up to match the faster partner, but that was not the case,” noted Libby Richards, associate professor of nursing.

The participants ranged in age from 25 to 79 and were looked at in numerous settings, including clear or obstacle-filled pathways, walking together, walking together holding hands, and walking individually.

Walking or exercising with a spouse, partner or friend typically increases one’s likelihood to be active, especially as people are now being encouraged to meet a goal of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.

Yet, it may be wise to opt for a solo walk from time to time too.

“If someone substantially slows down when they are walking with someone else, that could negate some of the health benefits recognised if they walked alone at a faster pace,” she added. “However, it’s important to note that any physical activity or walking – regardless of speed – is better than none.”

Full study results have been published in Gait & Posture.

Cover Fitness via Reuters Connect

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