A new study has found that the more an older man walks, the better his physical and mental health and his quality of life are likely to be.

Although walking ranks among the favourite forms of physical activity for older adults, few studies have considered the specific impact of walking as opposed to overall physical activity, on health in older people.

"Men’s health is becoming an increasing concern given their high rates of chronic diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In particular, health behaviours of older men have not been studied very much,” study’s lead author Jeff Vallance, Ph.D., associate professor in the faculty of health disciplines at Athabasca University in Canada, said.

He said that his team’s study was among the first to look carefully at objective measures of walking and of health and quality of life among older men.

The researchers surveyed 385 men above age 55 living in Alberta, Canada. The majority (69 per cent) were overweight, with 19 per cent being obese. The men wore step pedometers for three consecutive days, including one weekend day, to measure walking activity.

The researchers divided the men into four groups based on the number of steps taken daily, ranging from lowest to highest. The men averaged 8,539 steps per day. Men who averaged the greatest number of steps per day reported more optimal quality of life profiles, in terms of both physical and mental health, than those averaging fewer steps per day.

The study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.