100 steps a minute? Go!

St. Patrick’s Day saw the release of a fascinating pedometer-based study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

A small group of researchers was interested in translating the public health recommendation that all Americans should engage in 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week into an easy-to-follow “pedometer-based guideline.”

After clipping pedometers to 97 adults and tracking their metabolic rates at different speeds of walking, the researchers came to the conclusion that walking 100 steps a minute, or 3,000 steps in half an hour, is an ideal pace to meet the guidelines. There were slight differences in exactly what the ideal rate was for men compared to women, and for overweight or obese persons compared to normal weight persons. However, the 100 steps a minute rate is accessible and easy to remember for all, and, the study concludes, close enough for all groups of people to be effective in reaching the goal.

The study was performed on treadmills, which I had long heard were not as beneficial as just plain walking outdoors, but the paper takes pains to lay my qualms to rest, saying, “evidence does suggest that walking on a treadmill and walking overground are kinetically and kinematically equivalent in healthy subjects.”

I took a look at the chart breaking all the proposed ideal step rates down into categories, and was a little surprised to see that though most of the categories did fall into the “approximately 100 steps a minute” range, under one of the three analyses available, adults of “normal weight” would more likely benefit from walking at a pace of 127 steps per minute.

I know that I’m going to dig up a watch with a second hand and go for a walk today after I finish planting tulips. I’d like to see how fast it feels to walk 100+ steps a minute!

The full paper is available on the American Journal of Preventive Medicine’s website. Its complete title is: Translating Physical Activity Recommendations into a Pedometer-Based Step Goal: 3000 Steps in 30 Minutes