Couples often reduce their speed while walking together, researchers report.
According to a new study, couples slow down even more when they hold hands.
The researchers looked at walking time and walking speed of 141 people from 72 pairs. Participants ranged in age from 25 to 79 who walked together, walked together with their hand, and walked individually. The settings included both clear and obstacle-filled routes.
“In our study, we focused on couples, as partners in committed relationships often offer essential support in promoting a healthy lifestyle, including exercise,” says Melissa Franks, associate professor of human development and family studies at Purdue University.
“We were hoping there wouldn’t be a reduction in speed when the partners walked together,” says Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing. “We hoped that slower partners would speed up a faster partner, but that was not the case. However, it is important to note that any physical activity or walk – regardless of speed – is better than none. “
Richards says it’s common for people to walk or exercise with a spouse, partner, or friend, which increases the likelihood that someone will be active. We encourage Americans to reach the goal of 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
“If someone slows down significantly when walking with someone else, it could nullify some of the health benefits of walking alone faster,” Richards says.
There are many reasons to measure walking speed, says Shirley Rietdyk, a professor of health and kinesiology who specializes in biomechanics.
“Walking speed is important to measure because it’s related to overall health,” Rietdyk says. “Typical walking speed predicts the risk of falls, functional abilities, recovery from disability and mortality.
“Joint exercise interventions, including strength, coordination, and multimodal training, are effective in increasing walking speed,” he says. “These interventions can also slow down the onset of slower walking speeds and help slow down the loss of walking speed. No type of workout is better than another, so are the activities you are most likely to stick to. “
While walking is one of the easiest activities, people walk more slowly after aging and may need to find other fitness routines to stay active.
“Older adults who are more active tend to maintain walking speed,” Rietdyk says. “In other words, slower walking speed is not an inevitable aspect of aging. Older adults who walk more slowly have poorer health and poorer functional status. “
The study is published in the journal Gait and posture.
The work was funded by the Purdue Family Center and the American Nurses Foundation.
Source: Purdue University