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Walking for fitness is a great place to start and a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When walking for fitness it is important that you get your heart rate up, this is how we burn calories and gain endurance. You want to be pushing yourself to where you are breathig hard. A decent speed is a 15 - 13 minute mile. If you keep this pace and work hard the benefits of walking are endless!
The easiest way to know how fast or slow you should be moving for fitness is to get a heart rate monitor. Find your heart rate zones and work within those zones. The basic formula is 220 minus age, then multiply 65% to 75% to get zone one, 80% to 85% for zone two, and 86% to 90% for zone three. Some of you will be slightly above these percentages and some of you will be below, depending on how conditioned your heart is.
Talking and breathing are good indicators of where your zones are as well.
Zone one: evident by ease of breathing and talking while working.
Zone two: you are still talking while having to take a second to catch your breath.
Zone three: you need to take a breath after one or two words.
The speed that you walk depends on your level of fitness. Walk as fast or as slow as your heart can take without overloading it or causing shortness of breath. As your body gets stronger you will be able to do more. Do not force anything. If you are new to fitness take it slow and listen to your body. You are the only one that can hear it.
Walking speeds will vary for each individual. Reasoning for these variances includes the length of your stride, your current fitness level, and the intensity you plan to walk at. A good way to gage your walking will be to know your heart rate zone and to complete a talk test.
Your heart rate can be determined by taking 220 and subtracting this number from your age. Following, multiple this number by 65% to 95% and you will have a variety of heart rate zones. Working within 75-80% of your heart rate max is a good level. You may work above or below that rate depend on the intensity you want to work within.
Another option and an easier option will be the talk test. This test is simple; if you are able to complete full sentences then you are able to increase your intensity. When you are at a higher intensity, you should only be able to produce a few words at a time as compared to full sentences.
Again, all of this will depend on the level you want to work at. My suggestion, give it you’re all, if you are going to exercise then put in 110%!
A good speed when walking for fitness is a very individual thing. It depends upon what your level of fitness is and what your goals are. A good indicator as to whether or not you are walking at a good speed would be based upon whether or not you feel you are stressing your cardiorespiratory system. A heart rate monitor would be ideal for you to use to determine that. Ideally when walking for fitness, you want to get your heart rate up to approximately 65 to 75% of your predicted heart rate max, which is calculated as 220 minus your age. So let's run through an example:
If you are 40 years old, then your predicted heart rate max is 180 (220-40). When you are walking, your heart rate should therefore be in the 117 - 135 range (65 - 75% of 180).
Now this is just a guideline. If you have built a good cardiorespiratory base, i.e. you have been doing cardiorespiratory training for a while, and then you could probably push yourself a little harder. The key is to listen to your body. If you feel like you are stressing your cardiorespiratory system (you are getting slightly winded, your heart rate is up), then you are probably walking at a good speed.
If you’ve chosen walking as a type of activity to improve your fitness level, you would need to choose a speed that would challenge your body enough to improve its cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness.
That being said… the speed would be determined by your current conditioning. After about a 5 minute warm up starting out slowly and gradually increasing your speed, pick up the pace by increasing either your speed or incline level (on treadmill or choose some hills outdoors) to make the work you’re doing more challenging.
An easy way to gauge if you’re working hard enough without a heart rate monitor would be to perform the Talk Test.
Talk Test: Generally speaking, if you're working at a moderate-intensity, you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. If you're working out at a more vigorous pace, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. You shouldn’t be dying or gasping for air, but talking shouldn’t be comfortable or easy.
Remember, if you don’t challenge yourself you won’t change.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.