People who walk slowly may be nearly four times more likely to die from coronavirus and may have more than twice the risk of developing severe Covid-19, researchers say.
Those who walk slowly and are of normal weight could be almost 2.5 times more likely to develop severe Covid-19 and die 3.75 times more often than normal weight fast hikers, according to a new study.
Slow walking was considered to be less than three miles per hour, a constant / average speed of three to four miles per hour, or brisk greater than four miles per hour.
The study with 412,596 middle-aged British biobank participants examined the relative relationship between body mass index (BMI) and self-reported walking pace with the risk of developing severe Covid-19 and mortality.
Tom Yates, lead researcher for the study and professor of physical activity, sedentary lifestyle and health at the University of Leicester, said, “We already know that obesity and frailty are the main risk factors for Covid-19 outcomes.
“This is the first study to show that slow hikers, regardless of their weight, are at a much higher risk of developing severe Covid-19 results.
“With the pandemic continuing to weigh unprecedentedly on health services and communities, it is crucial to identify those most at risk and take preventative measures to protect them.”
According to the study published in the International Journal of Obesity, slow skiers of normal weight are at higher risk of serious illness and death than fast hikers with obesity.
In addition, the risk was equally high for slow runners of normal weight and slow runners with obesity.
Professor Yates added, “Fast hikers have been shown to have good cardiovascular and heart health in general, which makes them more resilient to external stressors, including viral infections. However, this hypothesis has not yet been established for infectious diseases.
“While large routine database studies have reported the association of obesity and fragility with Covid-19 results, no data on measures of physical function or fitness are currently available in routine clinical databases.
“I believe that ongoing public health studies and research monitoring should consider including simple measures of physical fitness such as self-reported walking pace as potential risk predictors of Covid-19 outcomes in addition to BMI Ultimately, enabling better prevention methods could save lives. “
The study was conducted by researchers from the Leicester Biomedical Research Center of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The researchers noted a number of limitations in their study, saying that while self-reported walking pace may be linked to cardiorespiratory fitness within the UK biobank, it may be subject to reporting bias.
They say that given this and the observational design, no definitive causal conclusions can be drawn from their results.