Mortality risk comparing walking pace to handgrip strength and a healthy lifestyle: A UK Biobank study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims: Brisk walking and a greater muscle strength have been associated with a longer life; whether these associations are influenced by other lifestyle behaviours, however, is less well known. 

Methods: Information on usual walking pace (self-defined as slow, steady/average, or brisk), dynamometer-assessed handgrip strength, lifestyle behaviours (physical activity, TV viewing, diet, alcohol intake, sleep and smoking) and body mass index was collected at baseline in 450,888 UK Biobank study participants. We estimated 10-year standardised survival for individual and combined lifestyle behaviours and body mass index across levels of walking pace and handgrip strength. 

Results: Over a median follow-up of 7.0 years, 3808 (1.6%) deaths in women and 6783 (3.2%) in men occurred. Brisk walkers had a survival advantage over slow walkers, irrespective of the degree of engagement in other lifestyle behaviours, except for smoking. Estimated 10-year survival was higher in brisk walkers who otherwise engaged in an unhealthy lifestyle compared to slow walkers who engaged in an otherwise healthy lifestyle: 97.1% (95% confidence interval: 96.9–97.3) vs 95.0% (94.6–95.4) in women; 94.8% (94.7–95.0) vs 93.7% (93.3–94.2) in men. Body mass index modified the association between walking pace and survival in men, with the largest survival benefits of brisk walking observed in underweight participants. Compared to walking pace, for handgrip strength there was more overlap in 10-year survival across lifestyle behaviours. 

Conclusion: Except for smoking, brisk walkers with an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle have a lower mortality risk than slow walkers with an otherwise healthy lifestyle.


  • Francesco Zaccardi
  • Paul W. Franks
  • Frank Dudbridge
  • Melanie J. Davies
  • Kamlesh Khunti
  • Thomas Yates
External organisations
  • University of Leicester
  • Umeå University
  • NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Leicester
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • absolute risk, grip strength, lifestyle, mortality, smoking, Walking pace
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 12
Publication categoryResearch