Why You Should Start Speed Walking

elderly couple walking in park.

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What are the effects of speedwalking compared with just strolling? You may have simply been walking at what felt like a natural pace. But then you go for a walk with a friend who has a faster stride and you realize that you can't keep up that pace. Do people who walk faster get more benefits from their walks?

Benefits of Speed Walking

What are the real benefits of walking faster if you still just walk the same distance? The National Institutes of Health and other experts provide a list of walking benefits.

  • Raises your heart rate to a higher heart rate zone. Easy walking is often done in the light intensity zone, while brisk walking will raise your heart rate into the moderate-intensity zone.
  • Improves weight loss efforts (with increased calorie burn) and increases fitness and endurance.
  • Increases flexibility of your muscles and joints depending on your walking pattern and your starting point. Stretching after walking will help you improve flexibility.
  • Strengthens muscles especially your leg and abdominal muscles. Walking may increase your range of motion as well as shift pressure from your joints to your muscles.
  • Increases impact but less than running and jumping. 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.
  • Gives you the benefits of decreased health risks if you're regularly walking for 150 minutes per week in the moderate intensity zone

Measuring Your Walking Speed

How can you know how fast you are walking? You can use walking and running apps, GPS fitness monitors, or simply walk on a measured course while timing yourself. See how to measure how fast you are walking. You can also use our pace calculator to see how long it will take you to walk various distances.

Calories Burned

If you wonder how many calories you burn per mile at different speeds, see the charts of walking calories burned by distance walked. These charts are based on MET research that measured the calories expended in different activities at different speeds.

Walking Calories by Speed

The following chart was built with numbers provided by two walking experts in their books. They indicated the approximate number of calories that you might burn when walking a mile at each pace. They may not match the numbers you will see in the MET walking calorie calculator.

The numbers for walking up to 5 mph comes from Gary Yankers in Complete Book of Exercise Walking. Numbers for walking over 5 mph come from Howard Jacobson in Racewalk to Fitness. The numbers given were for a 150 lb. person. To extrapolate to other weights, an increase/decrease of 10% for every 15 pounds was used.

100 lbs 120 lbs 140 lbs 160 lbs 180 lbs 200 lbs 220 lbs
2.0 mph 65 cal. 80 cal. 93 cal. 105 cal. 120 cal. 133 cal. 145 cal.
2.5 mph 62 74 88 100 112 124 138
3.0 mph 60 72 83 95 108 120 132
3.5 mph 59 71 83 93 107 119 130
4.0 mph 59 70 81 94 105 118 129
4.5 mph 69 82 97 110 122 138 151
5.0 mph 77 92 108 123 138 154 169
6.0 mph 86 99 114 130 147 167 190
7.0 mph 96 111 128 146 165 187 212

Running vs. Walking

What if you decide to start running instead? The maximum efficiency for walking is around 4 mph. Going faster leads to less efficiency and more calories being burned.

For runners, maximum efficiency is around 6 mph. At speeds less than 5 mph, runners burn more calories than walkers. At 5 mph, the caloric burn is nearly the same. At speeds greater than 5 mph, walkers burn more calories and racewalkers can burn 20% to 30% more. ​

Are You Ready to Walk Faster?

  • How to Walk Faster: Use these tips for posture, arm motion, and foot motion to boost your walking speed.
  • How to Racewalk: Use Olympic racewalk technique for extreme walking speed.
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4 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.
  1. Walking: A Step in the Right Direction. National Institutes of Health.

  2. Wojtys EM. Keep on walkingSports Health. 2015;7(4):297-298. doi:10.1177/1941738115590392

  3. National Institutes of Health. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. Exercise for Your Bone Health.

  4. Sawyer BJ, Blessinger JR, Irving BA, Weltman A, Patrie JT, Gaesser GA. Walking and running economy: inverse association with peak oxygen uptake. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(11):2122-7. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181de2da7