We’ve all heard about the health benefits of walking, but how fast should you be walking? What’s the average walking speed and what factors affect average walking speed anyway?
Knowing the average walking speed for different age groups and sexes might help you calculate how fast you should be walking during your walking workouts or how your walking speed compares to the average human being.
There are also many factors that can affect your average walking pace, apart from age and sex, that are important to know. And I’m sure you’re curious to learn how exactly to improve your walking speed over time.
In this article, we’ll cover not only what the average walking speed is, but also talk about the factors that affect average walking speed and the 7 things you can do to improve it over time.
What Is The Average Walking Speed?
Answering the question of what exactly the average walking speed is isn’t simple, since there are many factors that can influence it, the most important being age and sex.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average walking speed is around 2.5 to 4 miles per hour for adults (see treadmill pace chart).
This means that it would take approximately 15 to 24 minutes to walk a mile, which is further confirmed by data gathered in a 2019 study spanning five decades.
In a 2015 study on walking groups, it was discovered that competitive power walkers, for instance, may finish a mile in 11 minutes. These walkers are physically fit and can keep up a quick pace for a mile. What is a reasonable time for a mile-long brisk walk? Ideally, somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes.
If you walk more slowly, are new to fitness, or are older, it may take you closer to 20 minutes to walk one mile. But with practice, you can increase your average walking speed over time.
How Much Should You Walk Per Day?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that individuals aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or approximately 20 minutes per day.
Depending on your walking speed, this might mean walking a minimum of one mile each day. However, there’s a lot of data pointing towards walking 5,000 to 10,000 steps a day. The number of steps in a mile will vary, but that’s roughly 3-5 miles a day.
Walking for weight loss is going to mean, consistently building on what you can do do. Working up to that ideal average from the CDC and then of course adding in some strength training!
What Is The Average Walking Speed Based On Age?
According to studies, the average walking speed decreases with age.
Another research looked into the different factors that lead to this decline. Age-related sarcopenia, the loss of muscle strength, the decline in aerobic capacity (VO2 max), and the deterioration of cardiovascular endurance are all factors that contribute to a gradual slowing of pace with age.
One recent study from September 2020 examined how aging affected several aspects of walking. The authors released details regarding the average walking speed by age. The table below shares that data.
Since the original data only mentioned average walking speed in kilometers per hour, I’ve converted it to miles per hour as well as walking pace in minutes per mile.
|Age||Miles per hour (mph)||Kilometers per hour (km/h)||Walking Pace min/mile|
What Is The Average Walking Speed By Age And Sex?
Average walking speed can also be impacted by biological sex. Men typically have a faster walking speed than women because they have longer legs, greater muscle mass, and greater aerobic fitness on average.
Research that attempted to study the combined effects of sex and age on walking speed discovered that when matched by age, the average walking speed for women is slower than that for men.
One study published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) found the following average walking speeds by age group and sex:
|Age||Average Walking Speed for Women (mph)||Average Walking Speed for Men (mph)|
How Long Does it Take to Walk a Mile (Based on Sex and Age)?
Based on the walking speeds from the study published by PLOS, the table below shoes how long it takes on average to walk a mile based on age and sex:
|Age||Average Time to Walk a Mile for Women||Average Time to Walk a Mile for Men|
Other Factors That Affect Average Walking Speed
In addition to age and gender, there are other factors that may affect your average walking speed.
While most people do have a comfortable walking speed and a maximum or brisk walking speed, the average speed at which they walk from day to day can vary quite a bit, even between these two extremes.
Here are some other things that can change your average walking speed from day to day or between two people of the same age and biological sex:
1. Current Fitness Level
Your current fitness level will significantly influence your walking speed, especially over longer distances.
The more physically fit you are, the faster you can walk and the longer you can keep your walking speed without slowing down.
Taller people generally have longer legs and larger strides than shorter people, which can enable them to walk faster. In general, a person’s average walking speed is proportional to their stride length.
However, it’s worth noting that there are exceptions to this rule, and factors such as fitness level and health can also play a significant role.
3. Body Composition
Due to the additional weight they carry, people who are overweight or obese place a greater strain on their circulatory and musculoskeletal systems as they try to get from one place to another.
This doesn’t mean that heavier people will always walk slower than leaner people, but having a higher percentage of body fat could slow your average walking speed, especially at a given level of effort.
4. Health Conditions
Certain health conditions can affect average walking speed as well. For example, arthritis can cause joint pain and stiffness, which can slow down a person’s walking speed.
Similarly, Parkinson’s disease can affect muscle control and coordination, making it more difficult to walk quickly and efficiently. Other conditions, such as chronic pain, can also affect walking speed by causing fatigue or reducing mobility.
Your average walking speed can also be affected by the terrain you’re walking on.
Walking on a flat, smooth surface is generally easier and faster than walking uphill, downhill, or over uneven terrain. In fact, studies have shown that walking speed decreases by about 10% for every 1% increase in slope. This means that walking up a steep hill can significantly slow down your walking speed.
Also, walking on uneven or difficult terrain, like technical hiking trails, soft sand, or roads that are wet or snowy, can slow your average walking speed because you have to watch where you step and get around obstacles.
6. Level of Effort Exerted
The amount of effort or intensity you put into walking is one of the main things that affect your average walking speed. You will naturally have a slower walking speed when exerting less effort versus purposefully walking faster for a more rigorous workout.
This is because more effort usually means more energy expenditure, which can lead to a higher walking speed. However, the relationship between effort and walking speed is not always straightforward and can depend on a variety of factors, such as fitness level and terrain.
And for this reason, all the factors listed here can compound and work together to affect your overall average walking speed.
7. Environmental Conditions
Extreme weather conditions can affect your walking speed. Walking in hot or cold temperatures can cause fatigue or discomfort, which can slow you down.
Similarly, walking in windy or rainy conditions can make it more difficult to maintain a fast pace, as you may need to expend more energy to keep your balance and stay on course.
The type of shoes you wear can also affect your walking speed. Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes with good arch support can help you walk more efficiently and prevent foot pain or injuries.
On the other hand, wearing shoes that are too tight, too loose, or uncomfortable can slow you down or cause you to walk with an uneven gait.
Checkout my recommendations for walking shoes >>
Finally, distractions such as talking on the phone, texting, or carrying heavy objects can also affect walking speed.
When you’re distracted, you may not be paying attention to your gait or your surroundings, which can slow you down or cause you to walk less efficiently. Plus, carrying heavy objects can make it more difficult to walk quickly and may cause fatigue or discomfort.
How to Increase Your Average Walking Speed
Training your cardiovascular fitness and endurance is the best way to increase your walking speed. Let’s look at a few ways you can do this to improve your average walking pace over time:
Track Your Progress
The first step in improving your walking speed is to start keeping track of your progress. If you’re a beginner, it might take you longer than 22 minutes to walk a mile. Beginners might have to stop, start, or slow down to catch their breath. Your fitness will get better over time, and the time it takes you to run a mile will go down.
A pedometer or smartphone app that records your step cadence can be used to determine your average walking speed. Keep an eye on how your speed gets faster.
To make sure your data is correct, try to walk the mile on the same path each time. Walking on terrain that is steep or uneven will take longer. Consider walking on a treadmill to determine and monitor your pace while ensuring the terrain stays consistent each time.
Start Strength Training
Strength training is another great way to increase your walking pace. To do this, incorporate exercises that target your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves into your weekly routine. This will help you walk with more power for longer distances.
Make Sure to Stretch
Stretching is important for increasing your range of motion and flexibility. This will help you move more efficiently and with less discomfort, allowing you to increase your walking speed.
Monitor Your RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)
Monitoring your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is another useful method for tracking your improvement. The CDC recommends that individuals should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
What’s moderate intensity for one person will differ from that of another, and it will interestingly also change over time as your overall fitness level improves.
So monitoring your RPE is a great way to keep track of progress and ensure that you’re getting the right amount of exercise every week. This can also help you know when it’s time to push harder and when it’s time to take it back a notch.
Track Your Heart Rate
Tracking your heart rate is a great way to check your cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance levels. Your breathing rate accelerates along with your heart rate. Higher heart rates could mean you’re pushing too hard and you may need to slow down to catch your breath.
You can expect an increase in your aerobic capacity (VO2 max) as your fitness level improves. As a result, you won’t become out of breath as quickly and will be able to maintain your current speed for a longer period of time. Your average mile pace will improve as a result.
Try Walking Intervals
Walking intervals is a type of workout that includes switching between periods of power walking or brisk walking and a more comfortable walking pace.
This helps you increase your aerobic capacity and improve your overall speed by increasing your stamina over time.
Practice makes perfect, and consistent walking is key to improving your speed.
Set goals for yourself, such as increasing the distance you can cover in a certain amount of time or aiming to walk faster than yesterday. Keep challenging yourself until you reach your desired walking speed.
Looking for more walking tips?
- Best Walking Shoes From Each Brand
- Treadmill Walking Workouts for Everyone
- Walking 2 Miles a Day Benefits
- How Many Miles is 8000 Steps?
- Walking a 5K Plan
- Incline Walking Benefits
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