How fast do I have to walk to get fit?


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- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


To count as exercise, walking is supposed to reach a “moderate” level of intensity, where you use about three times as much energy as you would lying on the sofa popping Cheetos. So how fast is that? According to a study by researchers at San Diego State University, it’s between 92 and 102 steps per minute for men, and between 91 and 115 steps per minute for women.

That’s assuming, of course, that you live in a home with a picket fence, a dog, and 1.4 children. Still, even if you’re not perfectly average, the researchers are comfortable drawing general conclusions:

We believe that these data support a general recommendation of walking at more than 100 steps per minute on level terrain to meet the minimum of the moderate-intensity guideline. Because health benefits can be achieved with bouts of exercise lasting at least 10 minutes, a useful starting point is to try and accumulate 1000 steps in 10 minutes, before building up to 3000 steps in 30 minutes.

So if you’ve got a pedometer (and I have the impression that pedometers are the “random branded freebie” most in vogue these days), now you know what to do with it!