How fast should you actually be walking for the fitness benefits?
To determine which steps taken actually “count” as daily exercise minutes, researchers measured the cadence, or steps per minute, of 76 individuals between the ages of 21 and 40 years old.
The researchers found that a cadence of 100 steps/minute corresponds to a moderate-intensity activity threshold. This is a pace equivalent to approximately 2.5 miles/hour and will give you a metabolic equivalent of task, or MET of about 3, which is a measurement of how much energy is expended performing an activity.
The study results indicate that an individual walking at 100 to 129 steps/minute is likely getting about 3 to 5.9 METs, which is still counted as moderate-intensity activity. By increasing the pace to 130 steps/minute, a minimum of 6 METs will be achieved, which will count as vigorous-intensity activity.
It’s recommended that adult individuals get a minimum of 150 – 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week, or vigorous-intensity activity for 75 – 150 minutes each week. The study results can help determine your recommended exercise minutes total.
The study concluded that a cadence value of 100 steps/min seems to be a reasonable and consistent pace.
Measure cadence with a wearable tracker or fitness app, or just calculate your steps during a timed walking session.