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

6 replies
  1. Ben Parzybok
    Ben Parzybok says:

    Wow – cool.
    A few of the Omron pedometers track aerobic steps — you don’t get any aerobic steps until you hit 10 minutes straight of walking – but it is a good way to see if you’re making your 100 steps/ minute as you can see exactly how many steps you’ve hit once you hit your 10 minute mark.

  2. Avatar
    gruskada says:

    Thanks for bursting my bubble, Ben. I had just read the synopsis of this article, and was happy because 100 steps a minute is my normal pace. But, I’m also “normal weight”, so now I see I should really be walking 127 steps/minute.

    I guess I better pick up the pace, or start binging :-)

  3. Ben Parzybok
    Ben Parzybok says:

    so I’ve found that walking 100 steps a minute is pretty straight forward, so I wonder if I should be walking more toward 127/minute.
    Also – for how many minutes should we be walking? Is this for 30 minutes?

  4. Avatar
    robin says:

    The guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity, so yes. I found that what seems like a good brisk pace of a 15-minute mile is about 120-125 nsteps/minute for me.

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