I recommend walking for exercise to all my patients. It requires no special equipment and can has relatively low risk for injury. Every person has an optimal walking speed. This speed minimizes energy expenditure for a given distance. This speed is dependent upon body size, limb length, and sex. A recent study by Janelle Wagnild and Cara Wall-Scheffler studied walking speed choices among friendly dyads. The researchers examined the speed choices made by individuals of varying stature, mass, and sex walking together. Individuals walked around a track alone, with a significant other (with and without holding hands0, and with friends of the same and opposite sex while their speeds were recorded every 100meters.
I found the results of this study very interesting. If you are a husband walking with your wife you will decrease your walking speed by 6.3% and if you hold her hand it will decrease by 7%. By contrast your wife’s speed will not change significantly.
The results of opposite sex friends were also fascinating. When males and females who were not romantically involved walked together there was not a significant difference in either’s walking speed away from solo walking. Males only slightly decreased there speed to walk with female friends.
The results of same sex friends were equally interesting. Being typical males we will increase our walking speed when walking with male friends. Whereas, when females walked with female friends their speed actually decreased by 3%.
So it appears to me if you want to walk for exercise and are male don’t walk with your wife. Walking with your buddies will give you a better work out. If you are a female ditch your girlfriends and go with a guy friend instead. You’ll get a better work out.
If you would like to learn how to prevent foot pain from walking please check out my video:
Citation: Wagnild J. Wall-Scheffler CM (2013) Energetic Consequences of Human Sociality: Waliking Speed Choices among Friendly Dyads. PloS One8(10): e76576. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076576
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