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How to Determine Walking Speed

By Sam Ashe-Edmunds

You can use a number of methods to determine your walking speed using simple calculations. With a pedometer and a watch, you can quickly learn how fast you’re walking. Walking faster helps you burn more calories per minute by raising your heart rate. Lowering your speed lets you walk longer, helping you improve your cardiovascular stamina and muscular endurance so you can increase your calorie burn as you get in better shape.

Use an online service like MapMyWalk to plan your route. Click on your starting point -- whether that's your front door or a nearby park -- and your pre-determined end point; and the mileage will be calculated for you.

Purchase a pedometer if you don't have a computer. It will measure the distance you walk based on the number of steps you take. Pedometers that take into account your height and stride length are the most accurate.

Calculate the number of steps you take in 1 mile as an alternate method of calculating your course distance. Measure how many steps you take walking 1 yard. A mile is 1,760 yards. If you take three steps per yard, you will take 5,280 steps per mile.

Walk the course, noting your start and finish times. Record your time after each mile and at the halfway point to create timed splits. Don’t rely on doubling the first-half results to provide accurate walking speeds for the entire walk. The first half of your course may be downhill, for example, and you’ll be more tired during the second half of your walk.

Take the number of minutes it took to walk 1 mile and calculate your speed. Divide 60 by the number of minutes it took you to walk 1 mile. If it took you 20 minutes to walk one mile, you walked at 3 mph, or 60 divided by 20. If you walk a mile in 15 minutes, divide 60 by 15 to get a walking speed of 4 mph. Alternately, divide the number of minutes you walked 1/2 mile by 30.

Tips

Choose a pace you feel you can maintain for 30 minutes or more without stopping. Harvard Health estimates that a 155 pound person will burn 298 calories walking for one hour at a speed of 3.5 mph and 372 calories per hour at 4.5 mph. Increase your calorie-burn by walking routes with hills and by jogging down them. This will change your per-hour walking time as you walk more slowly up steep hills and add several minutes of jogging downhill.

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