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N Engl J Med. 1998 Jan 8;338(2):94-9.

Effects of walking on mortality among nonsmoking retired men.

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Division of Biostatistics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville 22908, USA.



The potential benefit of low-intensity activity in terms of longevity among older men has not been clearly documented. We examined the association between walking and mortality in a cohort of retired men who were nonsmokers and physically capable of participating in low-intensity activities on a daily basis.


We studied 707 nonsmoking retired men, 61 to 81 years of age, who were enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program. The distance walked (miles per day) was recorded at a base-line examination, which took place between 1980 and 1982. Data on overall mortality (from any cause) were collected over a 12-year period of follow-up.


During the follow-up period, there were 208 deaths. After adjustment for age, the mortality rate among the men who walked less than 1 mile (1.6 km) per day was nearly twice that among those who walked more than 2 miles (3.2 km) per day (40.5 percent vs. 23.8 percent, P=0.001). The cumulative incidence of death after 12 years for the most active walkers was reached in less than 7 years among the men who were least active. The distance walked remained inversely related to mortality after adjustment for overall measures of activity and other risk factors (P=0.01).


Our findings in older physically capable men indicate that regular walking is associated with a lower overall mortality rate. Encouraging elderly people to walk may benefit their health.

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