This is the Ideal Pace For Your Daily Walk, According to Science

Research suggests marching to the beat of some of your favourite tunes might make your daily walk even healthier.

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week for good health—or so the mantra goes. But what’s “moderate exercise” for walkers? While walking 10,000 steps a day has become a popular fitness goal, and pedometers can track the number of steps we take, they’re missing one key piece of the puzzle: they give no information on how intensely we’re exercising.

To help, researchers at San Diego State University say that for walking to constitute “moderate exercise,” we should aim for at least 100 steps a minute. “This threshold is the absolute minimum,” says Dr. Simon Marshall, associate professor at the university’s School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences.

Getting the Most Out of Your Daily Walk

Walkers trying to increase their fitness need to push even harder. “One hundred steps will help cardiovascular health and lower your risk of some cancers, but to improve fitness and aerobic capacity more intensity is needed,” Marshall says.

March to the Beat of That Drum

Considering most pedometers won’t calculate steps per minute, what’s the best way to ensure you’re reaching that fitness goal? Marshall has a back-to-basics solution that may also help put pep in your step: Use the beat of a favourite song to set your pace. “If you walk in time to a song with 100-105 beats per minute (bpm), you can match each step to the beat.”

What does 100 beats per minute sound like in pop music terms? The Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” at 103bpm is “an ideal tempo to keep you close to moderate intensity”, he says. Also good are Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” and U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For“. So program that playlist, pop in those earbuds, and get walking!

Now that you know the ideal pace to max out the health benefits of your daily walk, check out 10 easy exercises that’ll keep you fit.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada