Brisk walks have long been known to be a path to better health. But how fast is fast enough? About 100 steps a minute, says a new study of walking speed and health.
A brisk pace rather than a leisurely stroll has always been recommended, but there hasn’t been an agreed-upon definition of what that means. One guideline advised aiming for 70 percent of your target heart rate. Another suggested walking at a pace that would allow for talking but not singing.
Finally, there’s some clarity. To reach their findings, researchers at the University of Massachusetts and elsewhere analyzed studies that tracked participants’ walking pace as well as other key measures such as heart and breathing rates. In all, they reviewed 38 studies that included hundreds of men and women ranging in age from their late teens to their elderly years with many different body-mass indexes.
While the participants varied, the data about what defined a brisk walk — considered moderate activity — were remarkably similar. And that makes it much simpler for the average walker: Aim for 100 steps a minute — which is a pace of about 2.7 miles per hour. It’s as simple as counting the number of steps taken in six seconds, and multiplying by 10.
One-hundred steps a minute is a good rule of thumb for people under age 60 and it’s a pace that should not feel strenuous to most healthy people, the researchers noted. Some older people needed more than 100 steps per minute to walk briskly, and researchers plan to do further study to pinpoint an ideal pace for that group.
So the next time you hit the road or trail for a brisk walk, remember this easy way to know if you’re on the right track.