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Paul Franks

Paul Franks

Principal investigator

Paul Franks

Genome-wide association study of self-reported walking pace suggests beneficial effects of brisk walking on health and survival


  • Iain R. Timmins
  • Francesco Zaccardi
  • Christopher P. Nelson
  • Paul Franks
  • Thomas Yates
  • Frank Dudbridge

Summary, in English

Walking is a simple form of exercise, widely promoted for its health benefits. Self-reported walking pace has been associated with a range of cardiorespiratory and cancer outcomes, and is a strong predictor of mortality. Here we perform a genome-wide association study of self-reported walking pace in 450,967 European ancestry UK Biobank participants. We identify 70 independent associated loci (P < 5 × 10−8), 11 of which are novel. We estimate the SNP-based heritability as 13.2% (s.e. = 0.21%), reducing to 8.9% (s.e. = 0.17%) with adjustment for body mass index. Significant genetic correlations are observed with cardiometabolic, respiratory and psychiatric traits, educational attainment and all-cause mortality. Mendelian randomization analyses suggest a potential causal link of increasing walking pace with a lower cardiometabolic risk profile. Given its low heritability and simple measurement, these findings suggest that self-reported walking pace is a pragmatic target for interventions aiming for general benefits on health.


  • Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health
  • EXODIAB: Excellence in Diabetes Research in Sweden

Publishing year





Communications Biology





Document type

Journal article


Nature Research


  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology



Research group

  • Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology


  • ISSN: 2399-3642