Older men who walked faster had a better chance of outpacing the Grim Reaper,… (Spencer Platt / Getty Images )
How fast do you have to walk to stay ahead of the Grim Reaper? About 3 miles an hour.
Australian researchers used the mythical character as a device to determine what walking speeds allow older men to outpace death. The results were published recently in the British Medical Journal's Christmas issue.
They clocked walking speeds of 1,705 men from a mixed demographic pool and followed them for six to 21 years. The average walking speed was about 2.9 feet per second. Also, in that time there were 266 deaths among the participants.
Those who had a walking speed above 2.7 feet per second were 1.23 times more likely to stave off death than those who were slower. And those who had a walking speed of about 4.5 feet per second or faster (about 3 miles an hour) managed to escape his Grimness even more handily during the follow-up.
From that the researchers deduced that Mr. Reaper strolls at about a 2.7-feet-per-second pace when he's working. Who knows how fast the guy can go in his off time, like when he's headed to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The results are similar to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. in January that found those who had an average walking speed of 3.3 feet per second or higher had survival rates that were longer than expected for their age and sex.