Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Walking pace varies depending on your stride length, the terrain you are walking on, whether you are walking up hill or down hill, your physical condition, age and sex. Men walk faster than women because of their greater muscle mass, longer legs and consequently longer stride.
If you are walking around the house or workplace doing your normal chores your pace will be about two miles per hour. While doing an easy walk around your neighbourhood where you are able to keep up a conversation with a friend you will probably be doing around three miles per hour. A good average walking pace for a woman is three miles per hour or one mile every twenty minutes. For a man the average speed is three and a half miles per hour. This pace is adequate for healthy living. Walking at this pace for thirty minutes five or six days per week will reduce the risk of heart disease, type two diabetes and reduce anxiety and stress.
If you are walking for fitness and exercise you will need to increase your walking speed to a brisk pace, between three and a half and four miles per hour. Time yourself on your normal daily walk and then try to walk this same length one minute faster next time. Increase your speed very gradually until you are walking at a speed which is 60 Ė 80% of your maximum heart rate. Walking at this pace you build up cardiovascular endurance and build muscle mass which helps you to walk faster more comfortably.
To calculate your maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220. This is your maximum heart rate per minute. To get 60% of it divide by ten and multiply by six. To get 80% divide by ten and multiply by eight. Your pulse rate per minute when walking should be somewhere in between these two numbers. This is your heart rate zone. If your walking pulse rate is higher than this slow down and take it easier as you are over exerting yourself.
To take your pulse take the first two fingers of either hand and place them on the upper inside of your opposite wrist. You will feel your heart beating. Using the secondís hand of your watch count the beats for thirty seconds and double it. This figure is your heart rate.
Power walking is a walking technique which utilises the arms as well as the legs to move faster. The average speed for power walking is 4.5 to 5.5 miles per hour. Power walking for fifty or sixty yards of your walk and then reverting to your normal pace will increase your overall speed.
Race walking is also a special technique. It is similar to running but in race walking the feet must be in contact with the ground at all times.
Buy a pedometer and once it is programmed with your age, height, weight and stride length it will calculate your steps, calories burned, and distance travelled. It is fun to track your progress and it acts as a great motivating tool.
Enjoy your walking. Increase your distance and pace gradually and listen to your own body. Donít overdo it.