In 2017, British Olympian Tom Bosworth broke a world record when he race-walked 1 mile in a speedy 5 minutes and 31 seconds. Amazing, right? But as you might imagine, Olympic race-walkers move much faster than most people.
So, when schlepping from, say, your apartment to your local coffee shop, how fast are you walking?
Adults walk at an average speed of about 3 miles per hour, although this varies widely, which equates roughly to one mile every 20 minutes. This figure varies based on a few factors, including:
- Age: Younger people tend to walk faster than older people.
- Sex: Men tend to walk slightly faster than women.
- Overall health: Genetics, diet, and medical conditions influence your speed.
- Body size: Factors like limb length and body mass index (BMI) affect your pace.
- Fitness level: When you exercise more, a faster walking speed may follow.
Now here are the deets on how fast a person moves their feet.
Here’s what walking speed looks like on average for adults, according to research from 2011:
|Age||Miles per hour|
Walking speed usually decreases with age, starting around age 60.
Men have a slightly faster average walking speed than women.
Here’s the average walking speed broken down by sex, according to the same 2011 study:
|Age||Sex||Miles per hour|
You’ve probably heard the term “brisk walking” before. It’s a more athletic type of walking than, say, strolling with Fluffy as she picks a favorite hydrant. A 2018 study defined brisk walking as a pace of 100 to 119 steps per minute.
According to the CDC, a brisk walk is one where you can talk but not sing. It sounds a little weird, but try singing your go-to karaoke song as you stroll along. If you’re too winded, then good job — you’re walking fast enough.
There are other ways to determine your approximate speed. Researchers suggest counting how many steps you take in 10 seconds and multiplying that number by 6. You can also track your pace with a smartwatch (like an Apple Watch), a Fitbit, or another device that monitors your physical activity.
Keeping tabs on your heart rate with one of these devices (or with a good old-fashioned finger to the pulse) can also reveal whether you’re walking at the right pace.
According to the American Heart Association, during a brisk walk you should aim to cruise at 50 to 85 percent of your max heart rate.
Max heart rate is 220 beats per minute (bpm), minus your age. So, for a 25-year-old, that means a max rate of 195 bpm (220 – 25 = 195) and a target brisk rate range of 98 to 166 bpm (195 x 0.50 = 98; 195 x 0.85 = 166).
You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise (like brisk walking) each week. If you really wanna sweat, at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week will also suffice. Jogging, cycling, and channeling your inner Williams sister are all ways to do this.
Walking is kick-ass exercise. You don’t have to train for ages to do it (RIP, marathon attempt), spend half your rent on classes (looking at you, SoulCycle), or risk dropping a weight on your toe (hard times at CrossFit).
Here are some other benefits of regular brisk walking:
- Burns calories: Burn, baby, burn! A calorie calculator can help you determine your personal burn. It will vary based on factors like walking speed, distance, terrain, and weight.
- Strengthens your heart: Research has shown that walking for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week can lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Might lower blood sugar: One small study of 10 people suggested a correlation between regular walks and lower blood sugar levels. (More research is needed, but taking a stroll definitely can’t hurt!)
- Helps your mood: Physical activity like walking helps reduce depression and anxiety.
- Boosts immune system: A 2015 study found that regular physical activity can heighten the immune system’s response to microbial infections (*cough, cough* good to know during flu season).
- Might help you live longer: A 2018 study found that walking faster may lead to a longer life. And a 2011 study found that people who walked more had lower expenses for medical care (cha-ching!).
Vanessa Carlton isn’t the only one who can walk a thousand miles. The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day. By age 80, the average person will walk about 75,000 miles, according to some estimates.
For reference, 75,000 miles is roughly the same as circling the earth’s equator three times. And we thought walking from that faraway parking spot was hard.
- Walking = easy, breezy, beneficial.
- The average adult’s walking speed is is around 3 miles per hour, but this is extremely variable.
- Factors like age, sex, and overall health can affect average walking speed.
- Regular brisk walks (totaling at least 150 minutes a week) come with an array of health benefits. They boost your immune system and your mood and burn calories while you’re at it.
- The “ideal” brisk walking speed varies from person to person, so take time to find the right stride for you. (If you can belt out Adele, you’re moving too slowly.)
- Walking even more can help your overall health — but if you have an injury or another condition that limits your ability to exercise, get the green light from a doctor before upping your mileage.