Skip to Content

'Slow Walkers' at Higher Odds for Severe COVID-19

WEDNESDAY, March 17, 2021 -- If you saunter and shuffle instead of scurry when you walk, you are at higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, British researchers warn.

For the study, the investigators analyzed data from more than 412,000 middle-aged Britons and found that among those whose weight was normal, slow walkers were more than twice as likely to develop severe COVID-19 and 3.75 times more likely to die of it than those who keep a brisk pace.

"We know already that obesity and frailty are key risk factors for COVID-19 outcomes. This is the first study to show that slow walkers have a much higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19 outcomes, irrespective of their weight," said lead researcher Thomas Yates, who studies physical activity, sedentary behavior and health at the University of Leicester.

"With the pandemic continuing to put unprecedented strain on health care services and communities, identifying individuals at greatest risk and taking preventative measures to protect them is crucial," Yates added in a university news release.

The new research was recently published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Yates' team also reported that slow walkers with a normal weight were at greater risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19 than fast walkers who were obese. And the risk was uniformly high whether slow walkers were obese or their weight was normal.

Fast walkers have generally been shown to have good heart health, making them more resilient to stressors, including viruses, Yates pointed out.

"But," he added, "this hypothesis has not yet been established for infectious disease."

Large database studies have linked obesity and fragility with COVID-19 outcomes, but routine clinical databases lack data on measures of physical function or fitness, Yates said.

"It is my view that ongoing public health and research surveillance studies should consider incorporating simple measures of physical fitness, such as self-reported walking pace in addition to BMI [a measure of body fat based on height and weight], as potential risk predictors of COVID-19 outcomes that could ultimately enable better prevention methods that save lives," he concluded.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Read this next

'Double-Masking' It? Proper Fit Is Crucial, Study Finds

TUESDAY, April 20, 2021 -- Wearing two snug, well-fitted face masks can significantly reduce your risk of coronavirus infection, researchers say. But a good fit is key: The new...

Meatpacking Plants Accounted for 334,000 U.S. COVID Cases: Study

TUESDAY, April 20, 2021 -- Meatpacking plants were the source of an estimated 334,000 COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to a new study. It puts the economic toll...

What Makes for a Satisfying Work Zoom Meeting?

TUESDAY, April 20, 2021 -- Video conferencing has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many workers are developing what some call "Zoom fatigue." Now, new research suggests a...

More News Resources

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Whatever your topic of interest, subscribe to our newsletters to get the best of in your inbox.