How to Use Walking Speed to Mix up Your Workouts

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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How to Use Walking Speed to Mix up Your Workouts

Walking is a great way to improve endurance, help with weight loss and improve mood. What’s more, walking at a brisk pace has been shown to increase longevity. Knowing your walking speed can help you get better at pacing yourself during workouts, measure progress, hit a race goal and more.

JUDGING YOUR WALKING INTENSITY

It’s helpful to break walking into three main categories:

Easy/Recovery Walk: At this pace, you should be able to easily maintain a conversation without feeling breathless. It can be used during interval training or easy, active recovery days. As a general rule of thumb, an easy walk is around 3 miles per hour or 20 minutes per mile.

Moderate Walk: At this pace, you may be able to talk occasionally, but your heart rate and breathing are more rapid. In general, you should be able to maintain this pace for an hour or longer. Your walking speed should be around 4 miles per hour or 15 minutes per mile.

Fast Walk/High Intensity: This pace will probably not be possible for long durations, as your breathing should be labored and it will be impossible to hold a conversation. Walking at this pace is usually reserved for short, high-intensity training such as intervals or for racewalkers. Walking speed is about 5 miles per hour or higher, and your pace should be faster than 15 minutes per mile.

HOW TO MEASURE WALKING SPEED

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of the different intensities of walking, let’s look at all the options you have to measure exactly how fast you’re walking.

1. HIT THE TRACK

One easy way to calculate your walking speed and pace that doesn’t require any gadgets is visiting the local track. Most tracks you’ll find at a high school or college are 1/4-mile long, with four laps equaling one mile. If you walk four laps in 20 minutes, your pace is a 20-minute mile. To determine your speed or pace over a longer distance, you can plug your distance and times at the track into an online calculator like this one.

2. TRY A FITNESS-TRACKING APP LIKE MAPMYRUN

The MapMyRun app allows you to easily track metrics like speed, pace, distance, elevation and calories burned. You’ll also be able to find new routes in your area, socialize with friends and build a community. Charts and graphs comparing previous walks allow you to track your performance (and progress).

3. BUY A GPS WATCH

New GPS watches provide runners and walkers with a variety of different stats. In addition to your current speed and pace, there are also other interesting metrics like step distance, cadence, training status and stress levels. On the downside, some GPS watches only work outdoors and won’t be accurate if you want to use them on a treadmill. If you plan to use one indoors for walking workouts, some GPS watches can be used with an accelerometer that attaches to the shoe. This allows you to estimate speed and distance when you aren’t outdoors.

4. INVEST IN SMART SHOES

Relatively new to the game, smart shoes like these ones from Under Armour have the ability to track nearly every running and walking metric you can think of without your phone. Speed, pace, distance, cadence, stride length and steps are calculated and analyzed by a sensor located in the deepest part of the midsole. The shoes can upload data via Bluetooth so you can track your metrics on any one of the MapMyFitness apps.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.

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