Ambling along at a leisurely pace might seem like an ideal anti-stress strategy, but if slow-and-steady is your usual speed, it could be an indication that you’re aging more quickly than someone with a faster gait.

New research published in JAMA Network Open used data from a long-term study collecting health information on over 900 New Zealanders over a 40-year period that started when the participants were around 3 years old. They assessed gait speed in April of this year, focusing on the slowest 20 percent and fastest 20 percent throughout three walking conditions: at their usual gait, at their normal pace while reciting alternate letters of the alphabet out loud, and at their maximum gait speed.

Speed was determined using a GAITRite Electronic Walkway, a system that provides gait analysis and identifies anomalies. Unlike a treadmill, this device—which looks like a very long yoga mat—is flat on the ground and features pressure sensors that can measure speed and walking patterns.

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