Four years ago, I wrote a post on productivity that suggested that you walk faster in order to save time.
I know it sounds simple and stupid, but if you want to be more productive, walk fast.
I am often teased by colleagues because I walk down the halls at breakneck speeds. It’s assumed by many that I am incredibly busy, and while this may be true, my decision to walk fast is a conscious one that I make in order to recapture time.
Not only does the increased speed provide me with an elevated heart rate and a tiny bit of exercise, but I simply get places sooner than everyone else. Almost every day, I park my car and walk past people who are sauntering through the parking lot as if it were adorned with fine art. As if it were a place they wanted to be.
Do I save much time in the process?
Over the course of a day, a week, a month or a lifetime, the answer is yes. Absolutely. The amount of time I save in each parking lot, hallway, and grocery store is minimal, but it adds up quickly.
It gets me back to the places where I want to be.
It gets me back to the people who I want to be with.
Readers scoffed at this notion at the time. They argued that I needed to stop and smell the roses. They suggested that there was value in the saunter. They insisted that rushing around every day wasn't the best way to live a life. They said that walking quickly through a grocery store was ridiculous. They implied that I was a little crazy.
Their opposition didn't bother me at the time. I know what it's like to be at the tip of the spear. Leading the charge for change can be difficult, but the tip of the spear is where I have been for much of my life.
I'm accustomed to occupying the minority, albeit correct, position on matters such as these.
Four years later, science finally supports my claim.
Walking at an average pace was linked to a 20% reduction in the risk of mortality compared with walking at a slow pace, while walking at a brisk or fast pace was associated with a risk reduction of 24%, according to a new study. A similar result was found for risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
I was, as you can imagine, not surprised.
The study was a collaboration between the Universities of Sydney, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Limerick and Ulster. The researchers linked mortality records with the results of 11 population-based surveys in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008 in which participants reported their walking pace. The findings appear in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine dedicated to walking and health.
I'll add that in addition to the possible longevity that results from a quicker walking pace, I stand by my original argument:
You'll also get more out of life by walking faster. Fewer minutes spent crossing through parking lots, walking down halls, and strolling through the aisles of a grocery store means more minutes spent doing the things you love and spending time with people you love.
Even if these studies prove to be flawed and life expectancy does not improve with a quicker walking pace, walking faster means that the time that you do have will be better spent. Precious minutes will be saved. Do this every day, and those minutes quickly add up.
Once you understand the value of time (by far the world's most undervalued commodity), you'll want to preserve every single minute possible.
And if you can gain an extra decade of life in the process, even better.