Your walking speed could predict risk of heart disease

How fast do you walk? 

Turns out, your walking speed could predict your risk of heart disease. A recent study suggests your walking speed might be tied to your risk of developing heart disease. 

Dr. Haitham Ahmed of Cleveland Clinic didn't take part in the study, but says the results are reflective are what experts have known for a long time: how fit you are and how strong you are can help predict your risk of having heart disease down the line. 

"People who are brisk walkers had significantly lower cardiac all-cause death, which makes sense because those patients have higher cardio-respiratory fitness," he says. 

Researchers looked at more than 400,000 people and found over a 6-year period, those with a slower walking pace were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who were brisk walkers. They also found those with a weak hand grip strength, were at greater risk for developing heart disease in the future. 

Dr. Ahmed says there's no way of knowing if people walk faster because they're more fit -- or if faster walking leads to better fitness. But he says previous research shows increasing your fitness level ultimately helps your heart health. 

If you find yourself walking slower than you used to, or if you feel like you're losing your strength over time, it's time to start thinking about increasing your exercise for the benefit of your overall health. 

"We tend to lose muscle mass after the age of 40 every year by approximately 1 percent per year. So, if you feel like you aren't as strong as you used to be, and you know you haven't been doing resistance training, it's definitely something to incorporate into your exercise routine," Dr. Ahmed says.

The results of this research can be found in the European Heart Journal.