Before we get to the nitty gritty, we must tell you that there is no single answer as to how fast a person should walk to get fit and healthy.
Why? Because everyone is different.
In fact, your personal target will regularly change, as your levels of fitness increase, or at times, temporarily decrease.
On average, though, the pace at which you should walk will be determined mainly by your heart rate, your lung capacity, and the strength of your legs.
Let’s face it folks, if you have always been active, then your overall level of fitness will be much higher than someone who has spent a few years on the couch watching TV.
Either way, making the decision to walk is always a good one, and we want to provide you with helpful fitness information, as always.
Understanding Your Heart Rate
Your normal heart rate is primarily determined by your level of fitness right now, and of course what age group you are in.
The one fact we know for certain is that if you walk slowly then this will not give your heart any type of true workout.
Your heart needs to be exercised, and your blood needs to circulate as well, but you should not be over exerted either.
So if you plan to walk as your main method to get fit, then it is important to know what your heart rate is right now.
The easiest way to find out is to own something like a heart rate monitor, or a pedometer, which makes this easy.
Of course, you can still do this the old fashioned way, by taking your pulse (or having someone else take it), and there’s nothing wrong with that either.
Now, based on many years of research, the way in which your heart functions has been broken down into certain measurements.
I have shown these in the table below. This is a good way to understand how the impact of walking will change our breathing patterns, and also change the rate at which our hearts will beat.
Heart Rate Zones for Determining Walking Speeds
|Heart Rate||50-60% of your maximum heart rate||60-70% of your maximum heart rate||70-80% of your maximum heart rate|
|Description||This should feel very comfortable to walk and exercise in. |
A good way to measure this is that you should be able to talk as normal, but you might be breathing a little bit heavier than usual.
|This is an exercise level of moderate intensity. |
This is the perfect place to be for walking for weight loss, or walking to get fit.
You should still be able to talk but only in shorter bursts.
|At this point you would be breathing hard and only able to speak the odd word or two.
Typically walkers would not get to this level though you may feel a little like this on some hills or steep climbs.
We all walk everyday, and the distance we walk will also vary. However, when you want to walk for fitness, I think that you do need to take it a little more seriously.
No, you do not have to go over board, but I think it is useful to observe and understand how walking is driving up your levels of fitness.
Walking To Get Fit
If you have decided that walking is a great way of getting fit, then we know that it will work.
I don’t want to sound like I am scolding anyone, but just to be clear, walking for fitness is very different than going for a stroll in the evening.
If you are overweight, feel sluggish, simply can’t run, or want to work towards some healthier type of lifestyle, then walking is a great place to start.
You can start off with a short distance, and build up your speed. Then you can start to increase your distance, and also your speed.
The best way to do this is to have a plan, and then stick to it. You don’t need a lot of things to get started walking.
In fact, all you really need is a solid plan, and a decent pair of shoes. (see our homepage for suggestions)
If you have good shoes, you avoid the risks of blistered feet, and good walking shoes really help you with your stride pattern and support your ankles as well.
Then, you follow a plan which should start out with a short distance and build up to the level of fitness that you want to be at.
Measure your heart rate as you go, and look to see improvements. We think you will be surprised!
Then, start to increase the distance and in a matter of weeks, you really will feel like a new person.
We have done an article here on how many steps in a mile and how long it takes which we recommend that you check out as a really good guideline.
In your plan, always track your progress as it really is a great way of motivating yourself to get into the shape you want to be in.