It's happened to all of us — we're walking efficiently down the sidewalk, confident we'll be at our appointment on time, when we're suddenly stopped by a bale of slow walkers.
Now science has handed us a little tidbit that should alleviate some of the pain of losing our stride: slow walkers are less healthy than fast ones, and more likely to die early.
That's a fairly grim statement, we realize, but in a study of almost half a million people across the U.K., the evidence was there.
"Slow walkers were around twice as likely to have a heart-related death compared to brisk walkers," said principal investigator and professor Tom Yates in a press release. "This finding was seen in both men and women and was not explained by related risk factors such as smoking, body mass index, diet or how much television the participants in the sample watched. This suggests habitual walking pace is an independent predictor of heart-related death."
If you're someone who likes to go a little slower, this doesn't mean you should feel pressured into hustling.
Now, if you're someone who likes to go a little slower, this doesn't mean you should feel pressured into hustling — just that you might want to step up your other physical activities.
The study also looked at how well the subjects endured exercise, and found that those who described themselves as slow walkers were also less likely to be physically fit than those who described themselves as brisk walkers.
That makes sense from a physiological standpoint, since people who walk quickly are used to having their heart rates somewhat elevated, as opposed to those who go at a more sedentary pace.
Slow walkers might be more introspective and meditative, taking the time to appreciate the world around them.
But there's also the flip side — that slow walkers might be more introspective and meditative, taking the time to appreciate the world around them and being, as so much of the wellness literature puts it these days, "mindful."
And while that is not always the best tactic for busy city streets, it can reap benefits for your brain when you put your mind to it, setting aside time for literal mental breaks.
"The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done," wrote Tim Kreider in the New York Times in an article about how "busyness" is taking over people's lives.
And it certainly has a time and a place — maybe just not on sidewalks on weekdays.
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