Do people walk fast enough to meet public health guidelines?
Photo by Jeffrey Grospe on Unsplash
What is it about?
Walking outdoors can be used by many people to meet public health guidelines for moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity. But, we don't know what speed people walk naturally and if it is fast enough to meet these guidelines. We reviewed the available evidence on outdoor walking pace in apparently healthy adults. Based on data from over 14,000 participants we found that walking at a self-selected (usual) pace was associated with an average speed of 1.31 m/s, a cadence of 117 steps/min, and an oxygen consumption of 12 mL/kg/min, meaning that usual pace walking meets public health thresholds for moderate-intensity activity.
Why is it important?
Walking is the most commonly reported exercise among adults and the cornerstone of physical activity promotion for public health. Walking speed is related to intensity, and since physical activity of moderate-to-vigorous intensity is associated with health benefits, it is important to know if usual walking pace is fast enough to reach this intensity. We confirm that 'usual' paced walking is moderate intensity. This means that if people engage in walking for physical activity they will be meeting public health guidelines. We can use pace-based instruction to support walking in outdoor settings within public health guidelines.
The following have contributed to this page: Dr Jacqueline Louise Mair, Dr Elaine Murtagh, and Elroy Aguiar