Walking with your spouse or significant other may be nice, but if you’re walking for exercise, it may slow you down, reducing the health benefits of walking.
A study by Purdue University in Indiana showed that gait speeds of couples decreased when walking together. The study involved 72 couples between the ages of 25 and 79. They also found that when the couple held hands, the gait speed decreased even further.
This was somewhat unexpected, as you would expect a couple that exercises together by walking would keep up with other during the walking exercise.
It’s beneficial to have a walking partner, be it a spouse, partner or friend, because it increases the likelihood of being more active through peer support. Walking is considered a moderate activity, and it’s recommend for Americans to get about 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
Walking Speed Correlates to Overall Health
However, as the study indicated, if one partner does not keep up with the other, the gait speed can substantially slow down. This slower speed can negate some of the health benefits that come from walking at a faster pace.
Indeed, gait speed is actually important since it is related to overall health. Older adults who walk slower tend to show poorer health and have lower functional status.
Don’t fret, though. This doesn’t mean you should stop walking with your partner. Just understand that having a good gait speed improves your health, and remind each other to be mindful and keep up the walking speed.
Remember, it has been shown that older adults who are more active tend to maintain their gait speed. Faster gait speed is associated with better overall health.
This study was published in the journal Gait & Posture.