The average walking speed for humans is 3.13 mph, but your pace may be slower or faster than average, depending on your fitness level. Walking is an easy way to begin a fitness program. At first, you may walk at a slow pace, but as you begin to get in shape your miles per hour may increase relative to your walking style. To burn more calories, though, you'll have to pick up the pace.
Whether you're walking for relaxation after a stressful day, warming up or cooling down after a brisk walk, or simply taking your time, the average walking speed when strolling is 2 mph. According to the Mayo Clinic, when walking at 2 mph, your body burns an average of 204 to 305 calories per hour, depending on your weight. In comparison, tai chi, bowling and ballroom dancing, which burn approximately 219 to 327 calories per hour.
Moderate to Brisk Walking
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a brisk 30-minute daily walk. A moderate to brisk pace is between 3 and 4.5 mph. At an average pace of 3.5 mph, you can burn between 314 and 469 calories per hour. While a brisk half hour walk may not be practical on a busy work day, dividing the walk into two 15 minute segments provides the same benefits without disrupting your day.
Race walking, also known as aerobic walking or power walking, requires a significantly faster pace than the average walk. At 5 or more mph, you are moving as quickly as a jogger. Race walking is considered a vigorous activity, burning more than 600 calories per hour -- equivalent to jogging or running at 5 mph.
Pick Up the Pace
When transitioning to a faster pace, music helps keep you on track. Rather than counting your steps per minute, use the beats per minute of your favorite tunes to keep yourself moving in rhythm. According to Harvard Men's Health Watch, 80 steps per minute is equivalent to strolling. Listening to an 80 BPM song, such as a waltz, contemporary neo-jazz or R&B slow jam, keeps your pace steady. A brisk walk is about 100 steps per minute, or 100 BPM, while race walking is 120 or more steps per minute. This pace is equivalent to the BPM of a polka, disco or techno song.
- Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development; Electromyographic and Kinematic Nondisabled Gait Differences at Extremely Slow Overground and Treadmill Walking Speeds; Jennifer R. Nymark, MScA, BScPT, et al.
- ACE: Fit Facts -- A Walk a Day
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities De fined by Level of Intensity
- Harvard Men's Health Watch: Walking: Your Steps to Health
- The University of New Mexico Exercise Science: The Effects of Music on Exerise?
- PLoS One; Step-to-Step Variability in Treadmill Walking: Influence of Rhythmic Auditory Cueing; P. Terrier
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images