Just What Is “Brisk Walking?”

Baby Boomers and older adults have all heard the following health advice: brisk walking is an excellent form of moderate cardiovascular exercise.  This statement is usually followed closely by:  get in 150 minutes of cardio each week.

How does your walking speed measure up?

Walking is by far the most convenient form of moderate cardiovascular exercise.  You can walk almost anywhere (if it’s too hot outside, navigate through a mall or big-box store) and any time (I’ve been known to walk up and down my hallway for 15 – 30 minutes when it’s too dark outside).  You don’t need a gym membership, expensive clothing, or costly coaching.

Simply purchase a well-fitted pair of shoes, then take off with a water bottle!

But you want to make your efforts count!  That is, you want to walk fast enough to qualify as “moderate” cardio physical activity.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies define “brisk walking” as occurring “at a pace at which people can talk but not sing.”  Or, you can walk at 70% maximal heart rate.  Huh?

Both of these recommendations are very impractical ways to measure walking intensity.

So researchers looked at various studies to find a better answer; the results of their efforts were published in the June 2018 edition of British Journal of Sports Medicine.  They analyzed 38 studies that included hundreds of men and women age 18 and up.

Their conclusion:  

Brisk walking is a pace of about 2.7 miles per hour—or 100 steps per minute.

100 steps per minute is something you can easily and often check.  For example, you can count steps for 10 seconds and multiply by 6, or count for a full 60 seconds.  I found my “normal” walking speed is closer to 120 steps/minute, so I’m easily meeting the goal.  (These same researchers concluded that “vigorous” walking was 130 steps/minute.)

How does your walking speed measure up?

For more fitness tips, give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
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Lisa Teresi Harris is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer and author of the book Building Your Enduring Fitness.  A certified Geri-Fit Instructor, she helps Boomers and seniors to regain and keep muscle strength, mobility, and energy.
Contact Lisa to inquire about a customized, in-home fitness program for you or a loved one.




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