Outwit the Grim Reaper by walking faster

Men aged 70 and older can elude the Grim Reaper by walking at speeds of at least 3 miles (or 5km) an hour, finds a study in the Christmas issue published in the British Medical Journal today.

The authors say that for the first time they have estimated the speed at which the Grim Reaper usually walked: about 1.8 miles per hour. He never walked faster than 3 miles per hour.

The Grim Reaper is a well known mythological and literary figure who personifies death. To assess his role in and walking speed, a team of researchers based at Concord Hospital in Sydney, Australia analysed the walking patterns of 1,705 men aged 70 and over who were participating in The Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP).

The men lived in the and suburbs of Sydney and they were recruited from January 2005 to June 2007. The CHAMP study included a high proportion of and only 50% of the participants were born in Australia, 20% were born in Italy and the other main countries of birth were Great Britain, Greece and China.

The researchers assessed participants' walking speed at baseline and survival over the five-year study period.

A total of 266 deaths were observed during the follow-up. The results show that their average walking speed was 0.88 metres per second (m/s). No men with walking speeds of 1.36 m/s (3 miles or 5km per hour) or above had contact with the Grim Reaper.

The authors conclude that the results support their theory "that faster speeds are protective against mortality because fast can maintain a safe distance from the Grim Reaper."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Reaper' protein strikes at mitochondria to kill cells

Oct 20, 2010

Our cells live ever on the verge of suicide, requiring the close attention of a team of molecules to prevent the cells from pulling the trigger. This self-destructive tendency can be a very good thing, as ...

Exercise may lower risk of death for men with prostate cancer

Jan 05, 2011

A new study of men with prostate cancer finds that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of overall mortality and of death due to prostate cancer. The Harvard School of Public Health and University of California, ...

Shopping with the Grim Reaper in mind

Feb 22, 2011

Fear of death is a universal human emotion, but does it influence our behaviour as consumers? A new study, conducted by a graduate student at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business, has explored ...

Walking speed associated with survival in older adults

Jan 04, 2011

In an analysis that included data from 9 studies, having higher measures of walking speed among older adults was associated with increased length of survival, according to a study in the January 5 issue of JAMA.

Recommended for you

Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—There has been a recent increase in the rate of testosterone testing, with more testing seen in men with comorbidities associated with hypogonadism, according to research published online Nov. ...

AMA: Hospital staff should consider impact of CMS rule

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—Hospital medical staff members need to consider the impact of a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that revised the conditions of participation for hospitals ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dogbert
2.5 / 5 (2) Dec 16, 2011
The authors conclude that the results support their theory "that faster speeds are protective against mortality because fast walkers can maintain a safe distance from the Grim Reaper."


Despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of the article, it is likely that there really is a correlation between walking speeds and mortality. As people become ill, their ability to ambulate declines.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.