Does the intensity of my walking program matter, or does any pace provide the same benefit?

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Does the intensity of my walking program matter, or does any pace provide the same benefit?

WalkingThere are numerous health benefits to walking.  Remember that when talking about setting initial goals for an exercise program, especially a walking program, the most important factor is consistency. With that in mind, your emphasis should be on engaging in regular walks of at least thirty minutes at a time before progressing the intensity or pace of the walks. 

Generally speaking, the energy cost of walking varies only slightly with the actual pace of the walk.  For example, a 150lb person walking at a pace of 2.5 miles per hour (mph) will expend approximately  3.3 calories per minute, but if walking at a pace of 3.5 mph, he or she will expend 4.2 cal/min.  For this person, walking at 2.5 mph for 30 minutes will burn approximately 99 calories, but if he or she walked at a faster pace of 3.5 mph for the same timeframe, the caloric burn would increase to approximately 126 calories.

While faster walking burns slightly more calories, it's best to find a pace that is comfortable for you. As you improve your fitness level, you will find that you're able to walk faster or farther without too much extra effort. You can also check out our Kick-Start Workout, a three-month exercise program that includes a walking program component enabling you to progress to a 30-minute jog after 12 weeks.

Pete McCallPete McCall Contributor

Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner's World and Self. He holds a master's degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.

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