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A new guide to walking pace

Walking is still our favourite exercise, and we’re told to walk briskly for our health. But what’s ‘brisk’? The usual advice is that it’s a pace where we can talk but not sing. Now though, there’s a practical guideline.

A mostly-American team of researchers set out last year to answer the question: how fast is fast enough? 

In the last 12 months they’ve sifted through almost 20 years of studies on walking intensity to conclude that 100 steps/minute is a brisk pace. That’s the same as ‘moderate intensity’ (for healthy, able adults).

What’s handy about that kind of measure is that you can work it out without an activity tracker or pedometer. 

You can manually count the number of steps you do in a minute, or the number you do in 15 seconds and multiply by 4, or the number in 10 seconds and multiply by 6 (and yes, you could also do 6 seconds and multiply by 10). 

If you’re using a step-counting device, that’d mean you’ll do 3000 steps in 30 minutes. So another option is to divide your 30 minute step-count by 30. 

Still with me? 

The researchers stress that this is a preliminary effort at quantifying moderate intensity, but even accounting for different ages and step lengths, they think it’s a good guide. 

Above 130 steps/minute is considered vigorous.

If you’ve tried counting your daily steps and feel as though 10,000 is too big an ask, you might’ve enjoyed the recent Michael Mosley program on fitness on ABC TV.

That showed that you’ll get more bang for your fitness buck from three brisk 10- minute walks than from 10,000 steps. This has been dubbed ‘Active 10’. In the UK there’s a campaign encouraging people to notch up at least one Active 10 a day. 

As we now know, those three brisk walks will amount to about 3000 steps.

Research also tells us that people who do less than 5000 steps in a day are more likely to be obese or have major health risks. Less than 5000 is considered sedentary. 

So aim to get beyond the 5000 mark, and within that include some brisk walking. 



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Thursday, July 26, 2018 | Rhonda Anderson