Our last blog touched on Power-Walking and how doing it can get you over a walking slump when you stopped seeing the pounds dropping off. So, it’s no surprise that with power-walking, walking at a brisker pace will provide you with a better, healthier cardiovascular system then just walking at a slow, methodical pace. What’s the real difference anyway? After all, you were told by your doctor to start walking if you wanted to have a more active life as you get older right? But maybe he/she didn’t stress the point that a slow walk, while yes it does get you active, (at least it’s better than sitting on the couch watching a movie ever day), will not provide the necessary benefits you would get when you walk at a brisk pace.
Many of us likely don’t pay attention to how fast we walk, but a recent study suggests that our walking speed might be tied to our risk for developing heart disease. Experts have known for a long time: how fit we are, and how strong we are, can help predict our overall risk of developing heart disease. Studies have found that people who were brisk walkers had significantly lower cardiac and all-cause death, which makes sense because those people have higher cardiorespiratory fitness. Researchers looked at 420,727 people and found that over a six-year period, those with a slower walking pace were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who were brisk walkers.
If you’re overweight or just starting out trying to improve your physical self, walking can help you lose weight — especially if your walks challenge you and you incorporate other healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating more healthfully and getting more sleep.
So, just how fast should I be walking? The speed of a brisk pace is different for each person as it depends on your heart rate, age, and level of fitness. A brisk walking pace can be from 13 to 20 minutes per mile, or from 3.0 mph to 4.5 mph. At this pace, you should be breathing noticeably but able to speak in full sentences.
If you’re walking pace is 20 minutes per mile it may be either fast enough to be moderate-intensity exercise or too slow. If you are more fit, it might be light-intensity exercise. You can only determine this by understanding what the moderate-intensity zone feels like and what heart rate will put you into that zone.
Let Heart Rate Zones Judge Your Walking Speed
When you are first getting used to knowing what the different exercise zones feel like, it is useful to take your exercise pulse or wear a fitness tracker or heart rate monitor that shows your heart rate continuously. One that will provide you with this necessary information is the Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch The Forerunner 235 with Elevate heart rate technology measures heart rate at the wrist 24/7, giving you the option to run without a strap. Its colorful gauge identifies your heart rate zone and beats per minute in real time.
The zones to aim for are:
Healthy Heart Zone: 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is an easy and comfortable zone to exercise in. You will be able to carry on a full conversation, although you may be breathing a little heavier than usual. This is the lower end of the moderate-intensity zone.
Fitness Zone: 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. In this zone, you are attaining moderate-intensity exercise. You are breathing heavier but can still speak in short sentences. You can talk, but you can't sing. This zone should be your goal for most of your walking workouts for fitness or weight loss.
Aerobic Zone: 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. At this intensity, you are breathing very hard and only able to speak in short phrases. Workouts at this heart rate and above are vigorous-intensity exercise.
Walking the Best Speed to Be in the Fitness Zone:
You may need to learn how to walk faster to get your heart rate into the fitness zone. Using good walking posture, back-and-forth arm motion, and rolling through each step from heel to toe can not only speed you up but will also help you breathe better and walk easier.
As you increase your fitness, you may not be able to walk fast enough to get into the moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity zones. Adding hills or stairs may increase your intensity at lower speed. Using fitness walking poles can also increase your heart rate at the same speed.
If you still can't achieve a higher heart rate by walking, you can try using the racewalking technique or switch to jogging intervals to get into a higher heart rate zone.
Knowing Your Pace: is a key to setting and reaching the goals you're striving for. With the benefits of a heart rate, monitor watch like the Garmin Fore-Runner 235 will help you keep an accurate track of the distance you traveled and the time it took you to get there. To be sure about the accuracy and time you’ve accomplished if you don’t have such a great fitness tool, you can do the math and get an accurate result that you can work with.
To calculate your pace, you will need to know the distance you have walked or run and the time it took you to do so.
Equations to Do the Math Yourself:
Pace = Time / Distance
Time / Distance = Pace
Running 3 miles in 30 minutes = 30 / 3.0 = 10:00 minutes per mile.
Walking 3 miles in 45 minutes = 45 / 3.0 = 15:00 minutes per mile.
Your pace and speed can help you determine how long it will take you to walk or run a certain distance. Comparing these numbers over time can help you track your performance and see if your fitness efforts are paying off.
There you have it, with the above information you should be able to get your body’s furnace burning more calories and leaning it up some, by committing to focus on maintaining the proper heart rate zone which will have you burning more calories.
So, to coin another marketing phrase. Get in the Zone,,,, but in this case, YOUR Heart Zone!