Walking is an amazing, mind-clearing way to move your body and burn off steam after a long day at the office or a stressful few hours in class. But while you're strolling outside with a podcast, your pal, or your pup, have you ever wondered if your leisurely exercise actually counts as a workout? The short answer is yes, it does — but there is something of a loose guideline on how fast should you should walk to get a good workout, according to a recent study. The good news is, the target speed actually sounds pretty doable for just anyone of any fitness level.
The report, which has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, says that as long as you're keeping up with a certain speed limit, your walk can actually turn into a very effective, rigorous workout. For the report, the researchers reviewed and analyzed 38 different studies that allowed them to find links between health and walking. The studies included information on people's walking speed, age, body mass index, and heart rate.
Once the researchers collected and looked over all of their data, they found that 100 steps per minute is the magic number for a "moderate-intensity" workout.
This basically means, if you meet a minimum of 100 steps per minute during your stroll (which comes to a little less than three miles per hour), you'll get your heart rate up by about 50 to 70 percent of its resting rate, according to Well + Good, which sounds pretty rewarding if you ask me. It's also totally doable: Walking 100 steps in one minute might sound like a lot, but in practice, you'll find it's rather easy to achieve, so you'll be setting yourself up for success from the get-go, my friend.
In addition to being able to check off your daily cardio goals during your walk with this new guideline, it's also worth noting that you'll be doing amazing things for your mental health in the process, too. For one thing, if you're walking outside, your exposure to the fresh air will release feel-good chemicals in your body that will linger and do their joyful job for up to seven hours after your initial stroll, according to a recent study published in the journal BioScience. Essentially, a simple, brisk walk outside won't just make you feel good in the moment; the findings of this study suggest that simply being around nature can make you feel significantly happier in the long-term, and TBH, that's totally something worth lacing up your sneakers for.
How cool is it that you can slay a moderate-intensity workout while also benefiting your mental health? All you need is a little commitment, motivation, and the right mentality to reap the benefits.
For commitment, try enlisting a walking buddy to hold you accountable for your daily strolls, and for motivation, consider journaling about how good your walking workouts make you feel, so you'll keep coming back to the exercise again and again.
And when it comes to developing the right mentality, remember not to beat yourself up if you don't hit those 100 steps per minute, or if you have to work late and you're not able to go for your stroll one day. It's all about progress and effort, and as long as you know you're trying your hardest, that's all that really matters. Enjoy your walks when you're able to, and try not to get too caught up in exact numbers or targets.
Remember, everything counts! If you're not able to carve out the time for a walk, think outside the box a little: Get off the bus one stop earlier than you usually do, or park a little further away from your destination if you're driving. Take a stroll around your block while you're calling a friend, rather than plopping down on your couch. The little things add up, my friends, and before you know it, you'll be craving more and more movement each day.