Taking a stroll with a loved one? A study shows that men take their pace down a notch to keep up with their leading ladies.
A person's walking speed is influenced by various factors, including body mass and lower limb length, the study authors note. This is why men tend to walk faster than women.
The researchers looked at the walking speeds of 11 couples, as well as some male and female friends of the pair. Participants were asked to walk around a track alone and in various pairings.
When men walked alone they walked about 1.53 meters per second, and women walked at a rate of 1.44 meters per second.
When walking with their significant other, men slowed their walking speed down about 7 percent.
"It's really men who do all the compromising," study lead Cara Wall-Scheffler, a biologist at Seattle Pacific University, said to USA Today.
There may be biological reasons behind this, Wall-Scheffler told the Los Angeles Times. When men slow down, they may be doing so to give themselves the ability to protect their partners, especially their reproductive abilities.
And, Wall-Scheffler pointed out that studies have shown that when women are able to reduce their energy expenditure during walking, they are able to have more children. This could be another evolutionary reason why women don't walk as fast.
"I definitely think there is an evolutionary outcome," Wall-Scheffler said to the Times. "Whether or not selection has acted on this behavior so that we still see it among men today -- I don't know if I could go that far."
Interestingly, when men walked with their non-romantic women friends, they did not slow down at all. When men walked with their male friends, they actually sped up.
When women walked with female friends, both women slowed their pace down. The researchers said that might signify how intimate female bonds are.
"In indigenous, hunter-gatherer populations -- groups who are walking huge amounts -- we see females walking together with other females and we see men tending to walk by themselves or maybe with one other individual," Wall-Scheffler said to the Los Angeles Times. "That's typical, cross-culturally."
The study was published in PLoS ONE on Oct. 23.