Walking pace and the risk of stroke: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

J Sport Health Sci. 2020 Dec;9(6):521-529. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2019.09.005. Epub 2019 Sep 13.


Purpose: The extent to which walking pace is associated with a reduced risk for stroke remains unclear. This study examined the association between walking pace and stroke risk based on prospective cohort studies.

Methods: Databases of PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, and China National Knowledge Internet were searched from the inception dates to January 31, 2019, for prospective cohort studies focusing on walking pace and risk of stroke in adults. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the quality of the studies. The dependent measure was stroke incidence. Using random-effects models, a meta-analysis was performed to estimate the overall relative risks (RR) of stroke incidence and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the individuals with the fastest walking paces vs. individuals with the slowest walking paces. A dose-response relationship was also examined.

Results: After screening 1294 titles/abstracts and 14 full-text studies identified in the search, 7 studies (from 8 cohorts) were included in the meta-analysis. The 7 studies included a total of 135,645 participants (95.2% women; mean age 63.6 years) and 2229 stroke events (median follow-up time = 8.0 years). Compared to individuals in the slowest walking-pace category (median = 1.6 km/h), individuals in the fastest walking-pace category (median = 5.6 km/h) had a 44% lower risk of stroke (pooled RR = 0.56, 95%CI: 0.48-0.65). There was also a linear dose-response relationship (RR = 0.87; 95%CI: 0.83-0.91), with the risk of stroke decreased by 13% for every 1 km/h increment in baseline walking pace. We observed similar results across walking-pace assessment, type of stroke ascertainment, stroke subtypes, sex, sample size, and duration of follow-up.

Conclusion: Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that walking pace is inversely associated with the risk of stroke.

Keywords: Dose response; Meta-analytic review; Stroke incidence; Walking pace.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Walking Speed*