Fitness Articles

The 1-Mile Walking Test

A DIY Fitness Assessment

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Measuring your fitness level regularly is one way to find out if you're making progress. Most fitness centers have trained staff who can evaluate your body composition, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, but it can be pricey. If you don’t have access to all the toys and tools of your gym, don’t panic. You have everything you need to measure your fitness level in your own house!

This 1-Mile Walking Test measures your aerobic (cardiovascular) fitness level based on how quickly you are able to walk a mile at a submaximal (moderate) exercise intensity.

Equipment Needed: Comfortable clothing and sturdy walking or running shoes; a stopwatch or a clock with a second hand; a flat one-mile walking surface, such as a standard quarter-mile track (four laps equals one mile) or a flat road where you've measured the one-mile distance with your car's odometer.

Goal: Walk one mile as quickly as possible.

Execution: We suggest that you DO NOT attempt this test until you are routinely walking for 15 to 20 minutes several times per week. Do not perform this test on a treadmill, as it will skew your results. Warm up by walking slowly for 3-5 minutes. When you are ready to begin, start the clock and begin walking as fast as you can while maintaining a steady pace. You can slow down and speed up as you wish, but the goal is to complete the mile as quickly as possible. Stop your watch or check your time at the end of the mile to the nearest second. When finished, keep walking for a few minutes to cool down. Follow up with a few stretches.

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards (listed in minutes and seconds) for men and women, which are based on information collected from the Cooper Institute, American Council on Exercise and other sources.

Ratings for Men, Based on Age

Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70+
Excellent <11:54 <12:24 <12:54 <13:24 <14:06 <15:06
Good 11:54-13:00 12:24-13:30 12:54-14:00 13:24-14:24 14:06-15:12 15:06-15:48
Average 13:01-13:42 13:31-14:12 14:01-14:42 14:25-15:12 15:13-16:18 15:49-18:48
Fair 13:43-14:30 14:13-15:00 14:43-15:30 15:13-16:30 16:19-17:18 18:49-20:18
Poor >14:30 >15:00 >15:30 >16:30 >17:18 >20:18


Ratings for Women, Based on Age

Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70+
Excellent <13:12 <13:42 <14:12 <14:42 <15:06 <18:18
Good 13:12-14:06 13:42-14:36 14:12-15:06 14:42-15:36 15:06-16:18 18:18-20:00
Average 14:07-15:06 14:37-15:36 15:07-16:06 15:37-17:00 16:19-17:30 20:01-21:48
Fair 15:07-16:30 15:37-17:00 16:07-17:30 17:01-18:06 17:31-19:12 21:49-24:06
Poor >16:30 >17:00 >17:30 >18:06 >19:12 >24:06


Maybe you’ll find that you’re doing really well. But even if you weren't able to register on the chart, that's OK. Everyone starts somewhere! Just try to improve gradually over time from where you started. Remember, you are looking for improvement in yourself, regardless of what a chart says or how well someone else does.

How to improve: To improve your scores on this test, develop a regular cardio (aerobic) exercise routine and stick to it. Increase your intensity and duration gradually and you'll boost your endurance over time. Use the SparkPeople resources below for more tips to improve your aerobic fitness.

This will build a good aerobic base and over time, your heart will become more efficient which means that it will be able to do the same amount of work without working as hard. If your exercise of choice is walking, think about incorporating a little bit of higher intensity intervals, such as hills or light jogging.

How to know its working: When you're done testing, you can track your results on SparkPeople to keep track of your progress! Over time, you should be able to walk faster without getting as tired. Retest yourself at least twice a year.

This test is a great tool to see how you are doing. If you don’t score as well as you like, just remember to focus on improving your own scores periodically. As long as you are improving, your fitness plan is working. If you find you aren’t making the progress that you feel you should be seeing, it may be time to change your workout routine.

Sources:
American Council on Exercise. 2003. ACE Personal Trainer Manual, Third Edition. San Diego: American Council on Exercise.
Fitness Testing, ExRx.net
One-Mile Fitness Calculator, American Heart Association
One Mile Timed Walk, Real Simple
One Mile Walk Test, Sunflower Wellness

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Member Comments

  • I fall into the poor area for my age. I can either let this article shame me and give up, or I can be proud that I try my very best.
  • I scored in the excellent category! Go ME! Thanks for this test!
  • I've seen this one before. I really wish they would take height into consideration. A 5' tall woman must walk harder than a 6' tall woman to achieve the same result.
  • KATIEE67
    Guess I have to work a bit more for excellent but am happy I am at the better end of good!
  • So glad I came across this article. I was wondering what time was the top health goal for walking a mile. Seems I have a wee bit ahead of me to get to Excellent. My time is poor but my heart is in the cardio zone so need to do this. Just have to give myself enough time and have patience.
  • I have a torn Meniscus inside my knee and it takes me 17 to 20 minutes a mile.....
  • Interesting idea though it should provide alternatives as to how to measure out an exact mile. I find the assumption that everyone runs a car highly annoying. I got rid of my last car many years ago and have no desire or intention to ever get another one.
  • RITA_MYERS
    It takes me around 8-9 minutes to run a mile on regular terrain. But thatís really different when it comes to hiking. Hiking that one mile takes me around 13-15 minutes, depending. I actually have an article about it that you can check out plus all the benefits of walking a mile a day. You can find it on http://datingwith
    nature.com/ho
    w-long-should
    -it-take-to-walk-a-mile/
  • the results surprised me. im in the "excellent" category. wohooohooooo
  • My husband and I walked one mile this morning.
  • I like having a chart to compare to. I'm on average a 20min mile. So now I know I have something to work towards. I see a lot of negative comments or one just saying its not right. Maybe its not but still its a comparison right? If it doesn't work for you then it doesn't.
  • SDHSFCCLA
    Sounds like ole Ken Cooper's aerobics from late 60's :)
  • PHHHISC
    I appreciate all the helpful comments.
  • This does not match up with what I have been told by my doctor and also other fitness experts. I have a pace of 19 minutes per mile. I am told that is quite good. Something does not jibe here.

About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.