• Kyodo

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Elderly farmers and residents of fishing communities tend to walk faster and with a firmer gait than like-aged people in big cities, with the difference particularly pronounced among elderly women, a recent survey has shown.

The study, conducted by a group of life science researchers at Otsuma Women’s University in Tokyo, tested the speed and gait of people’s walks in three locations — a farming village in Yoshida, Shimane Prefecture; a fishing community on Toshi Island in Mie Prefecture; and urbanites in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.

The researchers — led by Masanori Kawahara, a research assistant who specializes in ergonomics — say they have found that urbanites in Tokyo walk slower and take shorter steps as they age, noting that the slowdown is particularly evident among women.

In contrast, only the walking pace of women on Toshi Island slows down with age, while neither men nor women farmers in Yoshida show a slowdown.

Women on Toshi Island, however, tend to walk twice as fast as women of comparable age in Chiyoda Ward, Kawahara said.

Kawahara is scheduled to present the study results at a meeting of the Human Ergology Society in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, later this month. He said the study was done by measuring the walking gait of 307 men and women in their 60s to 80s in each of the three locations.

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