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Step Up the Pace to Turn a Walk into a Workout

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Walking can be a great form of exercise. It's cost effective, easy on the joints and can be done almost anywhere. But how fast does your walk need to be? A new study in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that 100 steps per minute can help someone achieve a moderate intensity workout.

Volunteers wore pedometers to count their steps while they walked at various speeds on a treadmill. Heart rates were also taken during the workout to measure how hard they were working. Researchers found that 100 steps per minute was a moderate intensity workout for the average participant. For reference, the U.S. government recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.

By walking 10,000 steps per day, the average person will likely get the level of exercise recommended by the CDC and American Heart Association. Pedometers are a helpful tool for counting those steps. But the problem with pedometers is that they don't measure how hard you're working. If someone has an active job (such as a waiter or a nurse), they might take all of those steps as part of their normal day. That wouldn't be considered "exercise" since it's not elevating their heart rate enough to get the health benefits that traditional cardiovascular exercise provides. But researchers found that pedometers can be helpful if people use them to count their steps and set a goal of walking 3,000 steps or more in half an hour.

Interested in starting a walking program? SparkPeople's Walking Guide has the tools and resources to get you going!

Do you walk to stay in shape? What do you do to make sure your walk is a challenge?

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CECELW 2/15/2021
walking is usually the bulk of my workouts. I do strength training 2-3 times a week. I walk 3-5 miles about 6 times a week. Report
YMWONG22 1/29/2021
Thanks Report
MJ7DM33 12/29/2020
Thx! Good ideas! Report
MARTHA324 12/10/2020
I walk every day starting with walking our dog. Some days I get in a very fast walk, other days a longer slower walk. Have gotten over 10,000 steps for YEARS. When gyms shut down in march walking was my go to exercise. Report
CATNAP6291 10/25/2020
thanks Report
NEPTUNE1939 9/24/2020
ty Report
Thanks! Report
I pump my arms, listen to fast music and use my fitness watch to track heart rate. Report
CECELW 7/13/2020
I have a weighted walk vest. I only use it in the colder months. It really makes me sweat! Report
CKEYES1 7/4/2020
I use a Fitbit Report
NEPTUNE1939 6/24/2020
ty Report
METAFUKARI 6/15/2020
Great article Report
RCLYKE 5/26/2020
Thank you. Love walking and you just helped me make it better Report
CHERRYZMB60 3/17/2020
Walking is my favorite exercise Report
good article Report
I have times my steps and even at my personal moderate pace I can only get 60 steps per minute. 100 would be a challenge for me! Report
I do walk for exercise and when I got back in to exercise I found a pedometer that not only tracked steps but aerobic steps (had to be brisk and at least 10 minutes) so I could make sure I was getting faster walks in too. Now I walk our dog and that is sort of a HIIT workout w/fast walks/jogs with some slow walking and standing around. I also do a cardio workout at the gym on a variety of machines. Report
I use DVD's when I use the TM during inclement weather. I also have a Roku and found fantastic virtual walking hikes on YouTube free! (4K Relaxation channel walks). Produced by ProArt inc., are the best. The walks are awesome with no jogging up and down of the camera as some homemade videos. The other day I walked the Bryce Canyon. It was a little scary walking along a peak. The ledges in some areas are narrow. I love these virtual walks when the weather doesn't cooperate for outdoor walks. Report
Dearly Beloved and I generally maintain a 20 minute mile pace as that is about all he can do. I was disappointed to learn that this is considered slow and not helpful in maintaining good health. Report
I do an intense Interval Workout to get my heart rate up. I use a pedometer to track my heart rate. Great article. Thanks for sharing. Report
Love walking season! My husband, daughter & I head out after dinner each night. We walk maybe an hour..... best part of my day! Report
Thanks Report
Walking is my all-time favorite exercise! Right now, I am walking 3.75 miles per day in three 30-minute sessions. That is 10800 steps per day, and 144 steps per minute. I keep the treadmill at its highest elevation (on mine, 10%) and stay between 2.4 and 2.8 mph.

I hope to gradually increase this to 5 miles per day.

I have a titanium hip, so regret I can't jog or run; but at my age (64), I am so glad I can stay healthy with moderately paced walking.

Love my treadmill! It is an all-weather friend. When I take a day off, I really miss it!

yes, I love to walk Report
I like to walk in the warm weather. I have been trying to get motivated this winter to use my Leslie Sansone WATP dvds. She is great! Report
I love walk, sometimes I dón´t use the car I go walking to the mall, to the market all that I can do without the car. Report
Now that the weather's nice and I've been walking as it's part of our commuter's reward program, I've decided to walk as well. Found a place away from the house which seems safe and free, we love free! It includes hills and I may pick up a weight every now and again. Report
I am a (slim) Type 1 diabetic and it is difficult for us to lose weight. I walk for one hour each day, 5 days a week (both flat land and at an incline) and have been doing so for at least one year. I never lost any weight until I added exercise dvds that incorporated strength training with cardio, and even that came off slowly. Report
I do walking workouts that they have on the fitness channel on cable tv. However, these workouts add kicks and side twists and a little bit of jumping to give the workout more intensity. I love walking because it's easier on your joints then other exercises, but I usually have to combine it with other exercise to get in my daily calories I need to burn for the day. Report
I dont have a pedometer but i do want to get one. To make my walking workout more intense I walk on the treadmill at a 5% incline. I love walking and I have to walk everyday, I am a student, I have to go to different buildings, walk to get lunch, walk to my car, and in the city I am studying in now I have no car and have to walk everywhere, even to get to public transportation it is a 15 minute walk! Report
I walk a little each day, but with warmer weather arriving, I'm hoping to boost that up more. I like walking in nature trails, burning extra calories on hills, rocks and uneven terrain. Report
I use my treadmill for my walking workout. Report
I try to walk 3-4 days a week, although when I walked 4-5 days a week, 3 miles a day, took me 45-50 minutes. --This was a major contributor to my weight loss. I felt great as well. Sometimes I would move it up to a mailbox to mailbox jog and that would get my heart rate up. Would let it calm down for a few moments and try the jog from mailbox to mailbox again. Kept my heartrate up for about 20 minutes a walk. Then I used an IPOD that I got. That would keep me from getting so bored. BUT, it is a major contributor to how I feel, and my blood pressure dropped and I felt so much better mentally as well. Report
I walk - outdoors! It's free! Report
i also love to walk, for fun, exercise and have done half-marathons as well.

Lately though, I found that walking was getting a little boring and too easy. But I cant really run because of joint issues. So on good days ( i.e. no pain) I amp it up a bit with a "boot camp" style walk. I will use a track, like at the gym or by the nearby high school. Then I will warm up, walk, the do knee lifts, kicks, hamstring kickbacks, side shuffles, sideways crossovers, walk backwards, squats, and sometimes even lunges or skip (just like a kid!). It breaks the whole thing up for me, makes the time pass quickly, and I definitely get a a good workout and target some other muscle groups. Report
I like walking a lot. Sometimes I walk on the treadmill. I prop a book in front of me and read while doing my walking. But my favorite form of walking is hiking. I live where there are a lot of opportunities for that. Now I'm also training myself to walk even faster because I participated as a walker in Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and got hooked on the competitive thing, even if I'm not winning. It's about making me feel like an athlete for the first time in my life. I'm going to participate in a 5k walk in February now. I also like the fact that most of those are for charitable causes. So I can have my fun and do something for a cause at the same time. Report
just staring to walk Report
A daily walk not only helps the body but the brain! After a few minutes I feel much less stress, get new angles on old ideas/problems and as an artist, I get new inspiration for the next piece! Report
Walking has always been my go-to exercise and I enjoy doing it, but I was limited by the weather. I had a treadmill once but I really didn't like it. Now I use various fitness video's in addition to walking out doors but reading this article makes me want to find some of these walking videos! I think it would be great to be able to "walk" and never even have to leave the house. I don't mind walking in hot weather but I don't go if it's below 40 degres or raining. Report
I love walking; I've been a walker since 7th grade, over 40 years ago. Walking is the thing I miss most about having fibromyalgia and L5-S1 nerve pain and gaining so much weight. Walking more than a few yards can be excruciating. But I'm finding that good stretching of the hip and losing some weight has increased the distance I can go so I hope that as I gain fitness and lose weight, I'll be able to once again walk for pleasure and fitness. Report
I lost 90 pounds walking- it really works! Report
I try to take my dog for a walk every day for 30-45 minutes. She is young and needs to expend some energy!! It is a great motivator ;o) Report
I started to walk more on my morning/afternoon and lunch break. When I get home I walk around the block and also walk the 4 floors in my building and then workout on a 1 mile booster walk from

This keeps me stating motivated.

Good luck with your walks.

Thanks for this article. Report
I take a 15 - 25 min walk lunchtime during the week, and it is the best stress reliever! I track that walk but don't really think about it as excercise time. after work I like to go to go for my "real" walk for about an hour - just started adding one minute running "breaks" into my walk to spice things up. I need to find a place to walk that has some hills, though. I am thinking about getting a tread mill but I think part of the lift in my mood comes from being outdoors. Report
My omron pedometer does mesure the intensity if you you walk faster.The step are record aerobic steps. Report
I walk my dog twice a day for 30 minutes each time. She and I love it. Report
I walk every day during my lunch at work. Now that the weather starts to get better I walk with two wonderful gals who are both close to 6' tall. Mind you, I'm 5'2". In order for me to keep up with them I have to pretty much run. After an hour of such intense walking my whole body feels like it's being poked by a million of tiny needles. It's all tingly and very tired, so I think I get a nice cardio benefit from it. Report
I love to go for walks, when the weather cooperates. Last year, I walked 45 to 60 minutes a day, at least 5 times a week. With the weather, I was able to do this from April to October. I have been exercising inside when I cannot get out to walk. Even though I did not lose much weight, I also did not gain any either. I feel better when I walk. Report
I try to get in 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week. During bad weather I use the tredmill. Somedays I look at that tredmill and think "what a friend" other times it is "Yuck, some friend" This is the perfect time to recommit and not slack off. Excercise always makes me feel renewed. So the theme here is "JUST DO IT"
Judy Report