Why You Should Start Speed Walking

elderly couple walking in park.

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If you are curious about the difference between speedwalking compared with just strolling, you may be surprised. Even if you walk the same distance, speeding up your pace may provide additional benefits.

While getting active (no matter what intensity) is vital for health, adding in more intense exercise is recommended by experts and can boost your health in many ways. Read on for more information on speedwalking, how it can benefit you, and how it compares to regular pace walking.

What is Speed Walking?

Speed walking is a fast-paced walking activity that is quicker than your typical walking pace. It's not as high impact as jogging but still increases your heart rate substantially. Typically, speed walking is a pace of 15 minutes per mile or faster. 

There are different definitions, terms, and techniques for speed walking, including power walking or brisk walking. The Olympic version of the sport, racewalking, entails strict, efficient techniques using correct posture, arm, and leg motions.

Benefits of Speed Walking

There are many benefits you may experience if you speed up your walking pace.

Improves Life Span

The National Institutes of Health and other experts provide walking benefits that apply to all speeds, including a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

Picking up the pace while walking pushes your heart rate to a higher zone. Easy walking is often done in the light intensity zone, while brisk walking will raise your heart rate into the moderate-intensity zone. This zone improves your cardiovascular health, lowering your resting heart rate and strengthening your heart.

Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Dementia, and Type 2 Diabetes

Moderate physical activity helps reduce your risk of several conditions such as heart disease, dementia, and type 2 diabetes. You can also expect it to improve your sleep quality and reduce the risks of sleep disorders, boost brain function, and support bone health.

Builds Strong Muscles and Bones

Walking may increase your range of motion and shift pressure from your joints to your muscles. Walking uphill may increase this effect, but it is also recommended to perform weight-bearing exercises a few times per week. Walking briskly may also support stronger muscles, especially your leg and abdominal muscles.

Walking is also an impact exercise, but not as much as jumping or weight training. This is a two-edged sword. More impact can introduce or aggravate injuries. On the plus side, it can build stronger bones and slow down osteoporosis.

Improves Quality of Life

Speed walking helps you age independently and improves your quality of life as you become more fit and less at risk of illnesses. Your mental abilities and performance will also improve as blood flows to your brain. You can expect improvements in your attention, concentration, and motivation.

Measuring Your Walking Speed

To get an idea of how fast you are walking, use walking and running apps, GPS fitness monitors, or walk on a measured course while timing yourself. You can also use our pace calculator to see how long it will take you to walk various distances. Using the pace calculator, convert your time and distance into speed and pace. You can also convert miles and kilometers if necessary.

One other easy way to measure your walking speed is to head to a typical track and walk the inside lane, which usually equates to 400 meters. See how long it takes you to walk it four times to find out your minutes per mile pace.

Tips for Speed Walking

  • Be sure to warm up thoroughly for 5 to 10 minutes with a slower-paced walking speed.
  • Ensure you have supportive, comfortable walking shoes.
  • Buff up on the correct form, posture, and arm swing for speed walking.
  • Gradually increase your pace as your fitness improves.
  • Avoid doing too much too soon which increases the risk of shin splints.
  • Cool down at a faster pace and consider following up with some gentle stretching.

Running vs. Speed Walking

Running is an excellent exercise and provides substantial cardiovascular benefits. Running at faster speeds can improve your running performance overall, increase your ability to consume and use oxygen more efficiently, and lower your risk of running injuries.

Slower running speeds are also beneficial, but it's wise to break them up with faster and slower paces such as sprints and walks. Running does burn more calories than walking, even speedwalking, but is also less sustainable for long distances, especially for beginners.

Speedwalking is an excellent variation of cardiovascular activity you can work into any running or walking program. If you are not able to run yet, speed walking can act as an intermediary step toward a goal of being able to run for longer distances.

A Word From Verywell

Speed walking is an excellent way to get in some high-quality physical activity. If you are a runner, adding speed walking can help prevent overuse injuries while keeping you active. If you've been walking at a slower pace, consider speed walks to obtain additional health benefits and cardiovascular fitness improvements.

Be sure that a health care provider has cleared you for exercise before beginning any fitness program.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.