Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
As you walk I am sure you have often asked yourself these questions. How fast am I walking? Am I walking fast enough to get the maximum benefits from my walking?
We are all different. We are of different heights, weights, ages and levels of fitness. The speed at which you walk will depend on all of these factors. It will depend also on the terrain you are walking on and the amount of effort you put in.
Despite these differences it is easy to know whether or not you are walking at the right pace for you. The right pace is a pace which you can manage comfortably. If you are just walking around the house your pace is approximately 2mph. An easy walk in the park on level ground and your pace will be around 3mph. This is an average walking pace for a woman.
If you can walk one mile in 20 minutes, that is an easy pace. Walking at a moderate pace you would finish one mile in 16 minutes. If you can do one mile in 12 minutes you are going at a fast pace. For health and fitness a moderate pace is necessary. At moderate intensity you will increase your breathing rate, your heart beat rate will rise, and you may sweat. You can carry on a conversation but you can’t sing!
When we walk we hope to get fitter, strengthen our cardiovascular system and lose weight. If you are obese strolling will help you achieve all of those goals.
Build up your fitness slowly. To get to a level of moderate intensity, walk as if you were late for an appointment. If you cannot keep up this pace for the full duration of your walk you can do interval walking.
Interval walking means you alternate your pace between easy and moderate. In a 30 minute walk you could do three faster intervals of five minutes duration. Start off at an easy pace then up your pace for five minutes and then slow down and walk at an easy pace for the next five minutes. Repeat this fast/slow pace at least once during your walk. Gradually you will be able to do most of your 30 minute walk at a moderate pace.
If you want to get the maximum benefit from your walk you need to raise your heart rate level to 60 % to 80 % of your maximum heart rate level. This is called your target heart rate zone
You can measure your heart rate and pace with a pedometer
Do not stress over you walking pace. As you walk regularly your fitness will increase and you will then naturally increase your pace. You are not in competition with anyone but yourself.
Enjoy your walking and walk at a comfortable pace for you.