Your walking speed will vary depending upon your purpose (taking a stroll or engaging in a heart-pumping workout) as well as your height, stride length and other factors. An average fitness walking speed is one that most healthy individuals in a group can maintain for an extended period of time, at least 30 minutes. It is an average speed, not terribly fast or leisurely.
You may be walking at a speed of 2 to 2.5 mph if you are out for a casual stroll. Walking at a speed of about 3 to 3.5 mph is considered to be a moderate or average fitness walking pace, according to sources such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE). If you are walking at this ‘average’ pace, you should be able to finish one mile in 17 to 20 minutes. You can estimate your walking speed by counting the number of steps you take in one minute. On average, if you count around 105 to 120 steps in one minute, you are walking at a speed of about 3 to 3.5 mph.
If your goal is to walk to lose weight, maintaining an average speed of 3 mph may not be brisk enough to elevate your heart rate to its target range and torch enough calories to lose weight. An individual that weighs 150 lbs. burns only 112 calories walking for 30 minutes at a speed of 3 mph or 129 calories per half hour at a speed of 3.5 mph. Increase your speed to 4 mph, considered to be a very brisk pace, and, if you weigh 150 lbs, you will expend a more impressive 170 calories in 30 minutes or a whopping 370 calories in one hour. If you are a new exerciser, 3 to 3.5 mph might be enough of a challenge for you. However, for greater calorie-burning and weight loss benefits, strive to reach and maintain an above average walking speed of 4 mph.
- Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL et al. Compendium of Physical Activities: An update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000; 32 (Suppl): S498-S516.
- ACSM. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardio respiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998; 30: 975—91.