Step Up the Pace to Turn a Walk into a Workout

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/27/2009 6:10 AM   :  104 comments

See More: fitness, news, health, walking,
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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Comments

  • 104
    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!

    - 5/20/2011   12:19:22 AM
  • MRMAHANOY
    103
    yes, I love to walk - 3/29/2011   8:59:33 PM
  • 102
    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! - 3/9/2011   7:09:02 PM
  • 101
    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. - 7/29/2010   4:40:55 PM
  • SUNSET09
    100
    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. - 4/30/2010   12:23:52 PM
  • 99
    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. - 4/28/2010   1:15:39 AM
  • 98
    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. - 4/26/2010   8:16:47 AM
  • 97
    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! - 4/25/2010   6:36:19 AM
  • 96
    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. - 3/20/2010   10:34:26 AM
  • 95
    I use my treadmill for my walking workout. - 3/14/2010   5:12:04 PM
  • ROSE1950
    94
    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. - 3/3/2010   7:54:21 AM
  • 93
    I walk - outdoors! It's free! - 2/28/2010   9:16:24 AM
  • 92
    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. - 2/20/2010   9:59:23 AM
  • 91
    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. - 12/20/2009   9:06:27 AM
  • LEYNANCY
    90
    just staring to walk - 12/6/2009   7:54:49 PM
  • 89
    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! - 11/12/2009   2:23:41 PM
  • 88
    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. - 8/22/2009   10:45:02 PM
  • 87
    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. - 7/31/2009   2:59:56 PM
  • MNTGRL
    86
    I lost 90 pounds walking- it really works! - 7/29/2009   11:06:22 AM
  • 85
    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) - 7/18/2009   11:53:07 AM
  • 84
    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 exerciser.tv.

    This keeps me stating motivated.

    Good luck with your walks.

    Thanks for this article. - 6/17/2009   7:27:56 PM
  • 83
    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. - 6/6/2009   1:42:39 PM
  • 82
    My omron pedometer does mesure the intensity if you you walk faster.The step are record aerobic steps. - 6/5/2009   6:37:19 PM
  • 81
    I walk my dog twice a day for 30 minutes each time. She and I love it. - 5/30/2009   7:28:06 PM
  • 80
    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. - 4/8/2009   12:17:33 PM
  • NLIBAKE
    79
    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. - 4/6/2009   1:20:14 PM
  • 78
    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 - 4/5/2009   11:22:06 PM
  • 77
    My pedometer measures both total "steps" and "aerobic steps" so that is an option when picking out a pedometer. - 4/3/2009   6:11:42 PM
  • TLDIAS
    76
    I've added walking to my daily exercise as an extra boost to burn more calories. I am hoping that it will help me loose even more weight. While walking, I usually swing my arms; jog a little and then start back walking; and when possible, I change the direction I walk to include hills and rought terrain. - 4/1/2009   4:25:21 PM
  • 75
    I know I am not doing "cardio", fast heart stuff, but walking is still good. I feel it in my legs and it helps my overall attitude. So I don't count steps and rairly watch the clock, but I'm out there, feeling good about myself. - 4/1/2009   5:35:34 AM
  • 74
    I began the 7 day bootcamp workout three days ago and my 30 minutes of cardio is a brisk walk. I would like to get more out of the walk but my area is pretty level. I think after this week I will begin to do alternate between 30 minutes of walking and 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer it seems to burn more calories for me. Sparkpeople only give me 170 calories burned for a 30 minute walk. - 3/31/2009   4:13:10 PM
  • REBECCA3789
    73
    I don;t have a pedometer. I walk a 1 mile trip 4 times a day & each trip takes 15 minutes. 2 months ago each trip took me 20 minutes so I know I am working harder! - 3/31/2009   11:38:20 AM
  • 72
    When hubby and I first started losing weight (2007), we used pedometers and walked almost daily. After a while, we could not seem to get the same workout (we plateaued), so I started using the elliptical, which still gets my heart rate up and I continued to lose weight. I could have started running, but was afraid to hurt my knees; the elliptical suited me better. I still take walks with hubby, but don't use my pedometer any more. - 3/31/2009   10:07:08 AM
  • 71
    I'm not sure I agree with not counting the 10,000 steps taken at work ... while I was working a second shift job, I walked 10,000-12,000 steps a day. I never felt better. My stamina improved, I became more relaxed, and lost weight easier over the 7 weeks I was there. It was amazing what that little change in activity did for me. Before that I walked 2 - 3 times a week, and did strength training at a local gym, but never felt as good, or lost weight as quickly. - 3/30/2009   9:58:10 AM
  • 70
    Yeah, I love walking because it's so easy to do and where I live in England there are tons of wonderful places to get a really great cross-country walk in. I've done the whole pedometer thing, but unfortunately mine always seem to stop working properly after a while, so I've given up on it and just try to walk quickly every time I go walking and keep my heart rate up and feel that burn in my muscles. - 3/30/2009   4:50:28 AM
  • 69
    Yes, I walk and jog everyday for at least 60 minutes. Since my house compund has a slope and at the back there are 2 levels, so I walk up and down the slope and up and down the step (about 18 inches high) in both ways to keep my heart rate alleviated - 3/30/2009   2:29:27 AM
  • 68
    The GoWearFit product is a nice way to measure steps and also intensity of the steps. I'm finding it quite enlightening! - 3/29/2009   8:57:12 PM
  • 67
    One of my best investments in the last 3 years has been my pedometer! I found 2 simple ones at Amazon for less than $10. I gave one to my daughter and mine has gotten more use than the TV! With the weather getting warmer, I've started walking to the fitness center since one way it's less than 3 miles. I'm warmed up when I get to the gym and feel great for the walk home. I didn't think walking could be as great as this! - 3/29/2009   8:49:05 PM
  • 66
    I have thought about getting a pedometer- walking is hand-down- my favorite exercise. I have two parks in my neighborhood & a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. Guess I should buy one... - 3/29/2009   4:38:20 PM
  • DAN_ODEA
    65
    I walk to spend time with my wife. Although it is part of my workout routine, I spend enough calories on the elliptical so I don't need it to burn calories. Instead I use it to bond with Betty. A nice, leisurely pace of a 21-minute mile burns about 101 calories per mile, but the emotional benefits are worth it. I can do 17-minute miles, but I found doing so is more exhausting than doing 20 minutes on the elliptical AND burns less calories. So, why bother? 20 minutes of each burns 400 calories a day, and at 50 that's probably right. - 3/29/2009   10:25:45 AM
  • 64
    To make my walks more challenging, I sometimes use poles. I also try to walk along the side of the road where the ground is not groomed...like hiking in a controlled environment, and change of scenery sometimes provides different obsticles (lke hills). - 3/29/2009   10:09:49 AM
  • BLUEVERBENA
    63
    I've added walking to yoga and am really feeling the benefits of both. I love being outside and mostly walk along the river. It's been a great boost to my emotional health as well. The stressful work day seems to melt away as I just walk, breathe, and enjoy the fresh air. Can't duplicate it any other way. - 3/29/2009   9:30:53 AM
  • 62
    I do alot of walking in a hiking environment and there's a degree of difficulty at times. Also, photography is a hobby and it motivates the walking. There's always something cool to see around the next bend! - 3/28/2009   10:34:25 PM
  • 61
    I love walking in our subdivision, which has a small lake. Right now I'm just trying to walk, using routes I mapped out with Spark maps. Thank you, Spark! - 3/28/2009   10:15:43 PM
  • 60
    When I first started to lose weight I walked everyday. Then it wasn't a challenge & was burning less calories. Switched to TM & added incline. Now for some easy walking I add weighted gloves and do DVD's. - 3/28/2009   9:51:48 PM
  • 59
    My husband and I like to go for evening walks during the summer. We eat dinner, clean up the kitchen and try to walk for 20 - 30 min. Too bad the cold weather and early night fall prevent us from doing it year round. - 3/28/2009   8:46:29 PM
  • 58
    Walking can be hard! Like any good workout, it can be made more challenging by increasing endurance, pace, and intensity. I add hills, walk for longer, walk faster, and periodically jog (to ease some of my joints with a slightly different leg extension) in order to make it challenging. I bring the dog and music along to make it fun!

    I am now training to walk a marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Today, I walked 16 miles in 4 hours. (No dog, though. He can't keep up on the long ones.) Anyone who says walking is not a challenging workout is w-r-o-n-g. I had a good friend tell me this repeatedly. After a short walk together, she declined adding an additional mile when I suggested it. She didn't admit it to me but she told a mutual friend that the walk had kicked her butt.

    Go walkers!!! - 3/28/2009   8:22:30 PM
  • 57
    When I first started exercising it was walking and it wore me out. But it didn't take long before it stopped being effective both for cardio-vascular endurance and for burning calories. I just can't raise me heart rate significantly no matter how fast or far I walk. I don't count steps per se but most days I probably do 10K steps or more but it isn't exercise, it is just routine activity. - 3/28/2009   8:17:39 PM
  • 56
    I set my steps goal at 5000 or more because I often ride my bike more then I walk. I do range between 5100 to 19000 steps a day depending. I use my pedometer all the time. - 3/28/2009   6:46:55 PM
  • 55
    I walk at the mall or supermarket. I have one knee that won't straighten, and it can't take much walking. My younger sister has speed walked for years. She reached the point where no matter how fast she walked, it did not elevate her heart rate. She switched to cycling (there's a rails-to-trails trail that goes right past their property), and that has more effect. - 3/28/2009   3:42:38 PM

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