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Stress? Regain your happiness... When stress can actually lengthen your life!

When stress can actually lengthen your life!
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Picking Up Your Pace – When the stress of a fast-paced life actually lengthens your life!

“A beauty, isn’t she?” the salesperson sidles up next to you as you’re ogling the car of your dreams. They wait for your first “Well, yes” answer – in the series they’ve already mapped out for you. Apart from that “yes,” they’re waiting for some lingo, inflection, accent, anything to help match their pitch to the your pace.  

It’s lunch hour, you’re leaving the showroom, still on foot as you slip in among a crowd with places to go, and fast. You’re still imagining that dream car and the payments it would take to own it as you “get with the program” – matching your speed to the walkers around you, then staying in step. Like the salesperson and billions of pedestrians worldwide, you adapt.  

We all do. We’re programmed that way, with genes to be social, to “go along to get along,“ or be “confluent” even when we’re walking. So much so that each city in the US, in the world in fact, has its own distinct, but average, walking speed. Amazing as it seems, we locals, out-of-towners, and sometime foreigners merge with the walking speed of the city we’re walking in, adopting that signature speed while we’re there. Moreover, as cities grow larger and provide greater financial incentives and opportunities, the speed settings on our walking cruise-controls creep upward.

A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman measured the average time pedestrians in major cities took to walk 18m of smooth sidewalk. Today, these same average pedestrians in these same cities are walking nearly 10% faster. According to projections, in 2026 they’ll be walking 20% faster.    

  1. Singapore (Singapore); 10.55
  2. Copenhagen (Denmark); 10.82
  3. Madrid (Spain); 10.89
  4. Guangzhou (China): 10.94
  5. Dublin (Ireland); 11.03The speed people walk reflect stress levels
  6. Curitiba (Brazil); 11.13
  7. Berlin (Germany); 11.16
  8. New York (United States of America); 12.00
  9. Utrecht (Netherlands); 12.04
  10. Vienna (Austria); 12.06
  11. Warsaw (Poland); 12.07
  12. London (United Kingdom); 12.17
  13. Zagreb (Croatia); 12.20
  14. Prague (Czech Republic); 12.35
  15. Wellington (New Zealand); 12.62
  16. Paris (France); 12.65
  17. Stockholm (Sweden); 12.75
  18. Ljubljana (Slovenia); 12.76
  19. Tokyo (Japan); 12.83
  20. Ottawa (Canada); 13.72
  21. Harare (Zimbabwe); 13.92
  22. Sofia (Bulgaria); 13.96
  23. Taipei (Taiwan): 14.00
  24. Cairo (Egypt); 14.18
  25. Sana’a (Yemen); 14.29
  26. Bucharest (Romania); 14.36
  27. Dubai (United Arab Emirates); 14.64
  28. Damascus (Syria); 14.94
  29. Amman (Jordan); 15.95
  30. Bern (Switzerland); 17.37
  31. Manama (Bahrain); 17.69
  32. Blantyre (Malawi); 31.60

Social Stress

“But there has to be an upper limit, because if this trend continues, we will be arriving places before we have set off,” says author of the study, psychologist Richard Wiseman. With walking speeds heading steadily upward, speed limits might become self-imposed. Because living in bustling and overcrowded conditions causes “social stress,” that registers as a specific neurophysiology recorded with magnetic resonance imaging of the brain (and verified in three independent experiments).

Categories:   Brain Health, Circulatory System, Health, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Preventive Measures, Stress

Published by

Burt Glenn

Burt Glenn

Burton Glenn is a former Biology and Chemistry Professor and world traveler. He studies and writes about the effects of aging on the body and mind, as well as his personal experiences transitioning into retirement.