Fitness Articles

The 1-Mile Walking Test

A DIY Fitness Assessment

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.

American Council on Exercise. 2003. ACE Personal Trainer Manual, Third Edition. San Diego: American Council on Exercise.
Fitness Testing,
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

  • 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.
    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
  • 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.
    Sounds like ole Ken Cooper's aerobics from late 60's :)
    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.
  • There are all kinds of factors that may keep you from meeting what you consider a good standard for yourself, vis a vis this chart. I'm hoping that it's the hillier nature of my daily walks that have made me 'fail' so miserably....acco
    rding to this.

    A few years ago, part of my exercise regimen was walking up and down this hill near my house. It's quite steep, and a round trip is 600 meters. I worked myself up to doing it 12 times in a row, 3 times a weeek and could do that 7.2km in just under 50 minutes. That's almost 4.5 miles and the steep hill made it quite a challenge. The first time, 2 round trips and I thought I was going to die. I eventually had to give it up because of shinsplints so bad I could barely walk, and switched to other forms of exercise.

    Fast forward to now. 24 hours from death from a Staph infection in my heart, and now with a piece of the heart muscle repaired and 2 artificial valves. That was 6 years ago, and it took me 3 months to be able to walk around the block...and I'd have to hap after that. Add to that a self-indulgent nature and a feeling of "I cheated Death - I DESERVE this!" and I got up to 280 pounds.

    Walking as best I can and using the SP Nutrition Tracker have helped me lose 30 pounds in the last 3 months and my endurance and speed are much better, but still awful, according to this chart. Perhaps a level track would get me nearer the mark, and I know that losing the remaining excess weight would help, but the fibromyalgia honestly does limit my stride. I guess I'll never be 30 or 40 again, but I would kill to be 60 again - and healthy. Perhaps I'll get there by the time I'm 70, but I'm really hoping it won't take me 5 years.

    Best of luck, everyone, and remember that you're only doing this for YOU.
  • I use this as a guide-line when I started walking back in August 28, 2016 and I started walking 4 4/10's miles a day because I was at 280+ pounds and needed to get the extra weight off so my first walk was 2 hours and 55 minutes. Over time I kept getting the time down and now I can walk the same distance in 1 hour and 6 minutes, so yes you can do it if you want it bad enough to keep on keeping on. And I will turn 71 in July the 14 and my weight is at 173 pounds.....just got to work at it and you will see it is very true. When my 26 year old grand-son is with me I can do it under 14 minutes per mile. Don't knock it, but work for it and if you can't do it and you did your best then there is not one thing wrong it that. (Aug 28th - Apri; 1 I've walk 1,649 miles and it took 498 hours) I FEEL FANTASTIC NOW
  • I don't think this is unrealistic or favoring tall people at all. I am in my 50's, short, overweight, and I can walk a mile in 14:30. I walk three miles at a brisk pace almost every day. I don't walk every mile that fast, but if I want to I can walk three miles in less than 44 minutes.
  • SNITSKY999
    I disagree with those walking times. The times seem unrealistic for most people as those times people would have to moderately jog to achieve those times. I walk a lot cause I do not drive and I like to walk. I walk 1.5 miles between 20-30 minutes usually 25 minutes. Sometimes 20 minutes when I walk super fast or close to 30 minutes when I am tired or walking slower. It helps I am 6 feet 4 inches tall and by the way shorter people even when walking their fastest can't keep up with me. I consider myself in great walking/cardio shape and I am in better shape than the majority of people. I even ride a stationary bike 30 minutes most days of the week besides the walking.
    Oh by the way I either am walking in dress pants and casual slip on shoes or blue jeans with casual slip on shoes. I walk 1.5 miles back to the bus stop from work. Besides that I walk to go shopping and to restaurants where I live. That might add a little time.
  • At 5"2', 56 years old I thought doing 3 miles in an an hour I was doing good. Today I did 3 miles in 55 minutes, just shy of the 'poor' range for my age, greater than 18:06. Taking into account the heat and humidity, maybe I could do better, but I would still only be 'poor'. I guess at my weight, I still need to lose 14 lbs just to be overweight and not obese, that's still pretty good. Discouraging though.
  • If I try to walk as fast as I could for a mile my arthritis would prevent me from doing much for a week. I believe my system could allow me an excellent rating except for my knees. I wish equivalents for other activities were rated as well. I can't swim well. A bike would be ok but the result would be compromised by the surface, wind and efficiency of the bike.

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.