COVID-19: Walk your way out of the danger zone

It’s been a while since I preached about the life-saving power of a simple walkSo today, I’m going to do just that. (I know—I manage to sneak exercise into everything that I write. And I’ll keep doing so until the message sinks in! 

But today’s conversation is going to be a little different than the ones we’ve had before. Because I won’t be talking about how often to walk or how far or how long.  

Rather, I want to talk about how fast you walk. And more specifically, what that pace reveals about your risk of contracting—and dying from—severe COVID-19. 

Speed up to stay alive  

According to new research from the U.K., people who walk slowly are much more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

This study looked at more than 412,000 middle-aged adults to examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI), walking pace, and COVID-19 severity and mortality.  

Ultimately, results showed that, compared to fast walkers of a normal weight, slow walkers of a normal weight were nearly:  

  • 2.5 times more likely to suffer from a severe case of COVID-19  
  • times more likely to die from COVID-19  

And get a load of this twist: Normal weight, slow walkers are even at higher risk for both severe COVID-19 and COVID-19 death than obese, fast walkers. In fact, the risk remained equally high in slow walkers of all weights—from normal to obese.  

Needless to say, these are pretty staggering findings when you consider the fact that obesity and its related cardiometabolic conditions take top honors as causes of severe COVID infection and death.   

Another overlooked message 

This happens to be the first study to show that slow walkers face a higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications, regardless of their weight. But as usual, I wouldn’t count on this simple message getting much attention.  

But it’s one that we need to be spreading. Especially when you consider how many people are taking leisurely evening strolls and thinking that it’s helpful.   

Sure, those evening strolls may be enjoyable—and they’re certainly better than sitting on the couch watching TV all night. But clearly, we need to be encouraging people to move with a little more vigor, now and long after this pandemic ends 

Because it all makes perfect sense, when you think about it. Faster walkers tend to have better cardiovascular health. In turn, this makes them less vulnerable to all kinds of external stressors—including viral infections. 

And if people truly understood how just a few simple lifestyle changes might have prevented the catastrophic impact of this pandemic maybe that would start to take their health more seriously.  

There are so many things you can do to protect yourself, both during the pandemic and long afterwards. As this study suggests, building your cardiovascular health is keyAnd as other research has found, more physical activity translates to more overall heart protection. So, get up and move! Even a brisk, 30-minute daily walk can make a big difference.  

But remember… to be truly successful, you have to do it for you. Because we all deserve to live the longest, most vibrant lives we can make for ourselves. That’s why I always encourage you to put you—and your health—top of mind.  

P.S. For additional ways to fight against COVID-19, I encourage you to check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. In this comprehensive guide, I outline all of my top immune health recommendations. Click here to learn more!


“Pick up the pace! Slow walkers four times more likely to die from COVID-19, study finds.” Science Daily, 03/16/2021. (