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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Life in the fast lane 'speeds up'
Office workers walk during their lunch break in Singapore
Singapore showed a 30% increase, making it the most frenetic city
The pace of life for city dwellers is literally getting faster, a new British-led study suggests.

People are walking 10% more quickly than a decade ago, according to research in 32 cities across the globe.

Thousands of pedestrians were secretly timed in city centres with Singapore's residents found to be the most swift, followed by Copenhagen and Madrid.

However, the chief researcher told the BBC walking faster did not necessarily mean people were getting healthier.

Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, told the BBC that the results provided "a significant insight into the physical and social health of a city".

"At one level, walking quickly is good, but if it's a way of life - if you're doing it simply to get from A to B as quickly as possible - then it goes with a whole load of other behaviours which are not quite so good for you.

1. Singapore; 10.55s
2. Copenhagen (Denmark); 10.82s
3. Madrid (Spain); 10.89s
4. Guangzhou (China): 10.94s
5. Dublin (Ireland); 11.03s
6. Curitiba (Brazil); 11.13s
7. Berlin (Germany); 11.16s
8. New York (USA); 12.00s
9. Utrecht (Holland); 12.04s
10. Vienna (Austria); 12.06s
Time in seconds to cover 60ft (0.02km)
Source: British Council

"As people speed it's not the stress, it's the result of not eating properly, exercising or seeing friends and family. It can lead to all kinds of things, especially heart attacks."

A frenetic pace of life was found to be driven to some extent by technology. Mr Wiseman said communications were getting faster and faster.

"We are constantly in touch with each other and getting back to people as quickly as we can and that's minutes and not hours. That's driving us to think everything has to happen now."

The biggest changes were found in Guangzhou in China with an increase of more than 20%. Singapore showed a 30% increase, making it the most frenetic city in the study.

New York was ranked 8th, while London was outside the top 10. The Middle East tended to have the slowest pace of life.

The study was carried out in collaboration with the UK's cultural relations agency, the British Council.

What walking speeds say about us
02 May 07 |  Magazine

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