How fast you walk can be used as an indicator of overall health. Several variables contribute to individual differences, including age, sex, and height.
Walking speed also depends on your fitness level, the type of terrain, and how much effort you’re using. Fitness can also be determined by your metabolism rate, body fat percentage, and your waist circumference. Muscle strength, especially in your lower body and hip flexors, also affects walking speed.
Read on to learn more about the various factors that play a role in walking and pace. You’ll also learn:
- the benefits of walking
- how to make walking a part of your daily routine
- how to improve your technique for optimal results
In general, walking speed significantly decreases as your age increases. According to research from 2011, walking speed decreases slightly each year as you age.
Here’s a table that shows average walking speeds as we age:
|20 to 29||1.34 to 1.36||3.0 to 3.04|
|30 to 39||1.34 to 1.43||3.0 to 3.2|
|40 to 49||1.39 to 1.43||3.11 to 3.2|
|50 to 59||1.31 to 1.43||2.93 to 3.2|
|60 to 69||1.24 to 1.34||2.77 to 3.0|
|70 to 79||1.13 to 1.26||2.53 to 2.82|
|80 to 89||.94 to .97||2.10 to 2.17|
Walking is a wonderful way to help prevent decline in physical function that often accompanies aging. It’s free, easy to do, and can be done almost anywhere, making it an ideal form of exercise for all ages.
Older adults are less likely to get the suggested amounts of weekly exercise, which can contribute to physical decline. Staying in shape when you’re younger will make it easier to maintain physical fitness as you age.
On average, men walk faster than women, with the speeds between the sexes being most similar when people are in their 20s. Both men and women have a walking speed that stays fairly consistent until reaching their 60s, which is when it starts to decline considerably.
This difference could be because many older adults don’t get the recommended amount of weekly physical activity. In general, women are less likely than men to get the recommended amount of weekly physical activity.
This table shows the difference in walking speed by sex and age:
|20 to 29||Male||1.36||3.04|
|30 to 39||Male||1.43||3.2|
|40 to 49||Male||1.43||3.2|
|50 to 59||Male||1.43||3.2|
|60 to 69||Male||1.34||3.0|
|70 to 79||Male||1.26||2.82|
|80 to 89||Male||0.97||2.17|
Walking at a brisk pace means you’ll be walking faster than you would normally. Your speed is determined, in part, by your fitness level. Many fitness experts consider a brisk walking pace to be 100 steps per minute or 3 to 3.5 miles per hour.
A brisk pace is relative since it refers to your level of exertion, which depends on your fitness level. In order for it to be considered a brisk pace, you need to raise your heart and breathing rate. You may feel slightly out of breath or sweaty when walking briskly.
You can use an app or a speedometer to measure your speed. Or you can measure your heart rate using a pulse monitor, fitness band, or calculator.
Brisk walking counts as moderate-intensity exercise and is a terrific way to increase your physical activity. This type of exercise gets your heart rate going, makes you breathe harder and faster, and supports healthy blood flow.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week.
The faster you walk, the better. You can work on speeding up your walking pace by working on your technique. This includes improving your posture, stride, and arm motion. Wear comfortable athletic shoes and clothing that allows for optimum movement.
Walking at a brisk pace helps to improve your overall fitness and has many health benefits. Moderate-intensity activity increases your breathing and heart rate and improves your balance and coordination. Brisk walking keeps your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy.
It also helps to decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Physical exercise such as walking may help to improve your memory, slow mental decline, and decrease your risk of dementia, especially when you boost your pace.
Increasing your physical activity level by walking can help to maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and boost your mood. You may be less likely to have a stroke or develop type 2 diabetes. Plus, you’ll strengthen your bones and muscles. These benefits are greater the further and more frequently you walk.
The benefits of walking are greater if you’re exerting yourself by walking at a faster pace or walking uphill. According to research from 2018, walking at a fast pace can help to increase your life expectancy.
Brisk walking more effectively decreases the risk of all causes of mortality, including cardiovascular disease, when compared to slow walking. The protective effects of brisk walking were greater in older adults.
Additional research from 2018 found that heart patients with faster walking speeds had a lower risk of hospitalization and shorter hospital stays compared to those who walked at a slower pace.
Adding up your total number of steps over a lifetime shows you just how much those steps add up. On average, a person will have walked about 75,000 miles by the time they turn 80.
Think of this each time you have the chance to walk a few extra steps, whether it’s going for a quick walk around the block, taking the stairs, or walking a short errand. Inch by inch, these steps add up and make a difference.
While walking may be just what the doctor ordered, it’s still important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any walking program.
This is especially important if you’re taking any medications or have any medical conditions. This includes feeling dizzy, faint, or short of breath while walking. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any pain in your upper body.
Always listen to your body and exercise safely to prevent injuries. If possible, find a walking buddy who can double as your accountability partner to help you stay motivated.
Consider setting attainable goals for yourself and rewarding yourself when you meet them. You can also look to see if there are any walking groups in your community. However you decide to go about it, make the commitment to start walking your way towards better health today.
A walking speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour is typical for most people. However, this can vary based on many factors including your fitness level, overall health, and age.
While many variables can play a part in your walking speed, making walking a part of your fitness program is certain to bring about positive changes.