While a regular walking routine has shown to improve fitness levels, there’s no one right way to do it. Some people choose to walk for a certain length of time while others track distance or step count. For many, hoping to get faster is a big goal, since you can cover more mileage in the same time period and research shows brisk walking is tied to longevity.
Regardless of your goal, if you want to get into better shape by walking, consider tracking your progress in a way that may help you fully appreciate the gains you’re making. One way to do this is by using the Rockport 1-mile walking test.
WHAT IS THE ROCKPORT MILE TEST?
HOW TO TAKE THE TEST
WHAT THE TEST RATINGS MEAN AND HOW TO IMPROVE
Rockport test scores come with a rating, ranging from “very poor” to “superior.” Elite athletes are likely to be “superior.” People who exercise regularly may fall into the “good” or “excellent” category, while those who haven’t exercised in a while may be “poor” or “fair.”
Once you know your baseline Rockport test score, you may wish to improve your numbers. “If you exercise consistently, over time your aerobic fitness will improve, and you’ll get faster,”
says Len Lopez, author of “The 10 Biggest Workout Mistakes.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s no benefit to taking the Rockport test daily or weekly, since time needs to pass for you to notice a difference in your score. “Once a month, or even better, once per quarter, is a great way to keep tabs on how much your fitness levels are improving,” says DePatie. “Focus on small improvements, rather than just the [ratings] chart. If your [rating] result is ‘poor’ and 3 months later, your [rating] result is still ‘poor,’ you may want to give up. However, if you see your score trending up consistently, then this is great news.”
As your score improves, you should also notice your walking speed improves. You may progress from walking 2.5 miles per hour the first time that you take the test to 2.7 miles an hour a few weeks later. If you keep at it, your score may gradually rise to 3.4, 3.7, then 4 miles an hour over time, Lopez says, “which means you have gradually built your aerobic conditioning.”
You should also check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling otherwise — do you have more energy? How do your clothes feel? These are great ways to track progress, too. “Celebrate your wins along the way,” says DePatie.