Walk at the proper speed for good health

Created date

March 21st, 2019
A diverse group of adults wearing exercise clothes walk on a path

A group of adults wearing exercise clothes walk on a path.

Walking is generally considered a good form of exercise, especially for older adults. But is it good enough?

After all, government guidelines for physical activity seem fairly strict—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week.

It may not seem as if walking can help you reach those goals. But now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a way to quantify the amount of walking necessary to meet these established guidelines.

Steps and speed

What they determined is that for moderate intensity, younger adults (ages 21 to 40) need to walk about 100 steps per minute. To reach the vigorous mark, it’s at least 130 steps per minute. (An easy way to calculate your steps per minute is to count how many steps you take in 15 seconds, then multiply by 4.)

Walking fast enough might be easier than you think. The normal walking pace of 90% of study participants was above the threshold for moderate intensity. That may not be the case for some seniors, but the researchers hope to make government guidelines for exercise easy to measure and achieve for all adults—their findings are the initial results from an ongoing five-year study exploring the same steps-per-minute goals for adults up to age 85.