August 13, 2010, Newsletter Issue #74: How Fast Is Moderate?

Tip of the Week

Recommendations for walking for health and fitness often specify moderate walking, as in 30 minutes, 5 times a week, at a moderate speed, effort, or whatever. The question, of course, is what is moderate? Now we have an answer in an article from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. These experts tell us 100 steps a minute is the minimum pace for proper cardiovascular exercise. If you have a pedometer, it's easy to judge your pace. Otherwise, you can just count. (Left, right is two steps.) This comes down to about 3000 steps in that 30-minute walk. For most people, a mile is about 2000 steps. To figure out how many steps you take, use your pedometer on a course you measure with your car's odometer, or do four laps of a quarter-mile track (on the inside lane). No need to be real accurate about any of this.

This pace comes out to 3 miles in an hour, or 20 minutes per mile. I will go along with this as moderate. We used to take 15-minute miles as brisk walking, but I have recently seen brisk defined all the way down to 20 minutes. Moderate walking, and sometimes even slower, will give you many health benefits. Try to go a bit faster to improve fitness. Better yet, do what seems moderate or somewhat hard to you, depending on your goals. (This will change as you get more fit.) Of course, you can go faster for a shorter distance, but will slow down as the distance grows. You can do regular walking sometimes and Nordic walking for your workout on other days. You get more out of Nordic walking for the same pace and distance.

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