Walking provides many different “movement nutrients” but not all walking is equal, meaning the "nutrients from walking" depends on how you do it (joint positions used, speed, terrain, etc.).
The natural walking speed for a shod, healthy American adult walking over flat and level ground is about 2.8 miles per hour (Willis et al). However, in order to invoke walking’s fitness benefits (which are different than other benefits created from walking in other ways), you need to be walking at least 100 steps-per-minute.
1. GO OUTSIDE AND MEASURE YOUR GAIT-RATE RIGHT NOW: Have someone else time you for one minute, while you’re walking and counting steps. Make it a “family thing” and do everyone in the house or office (on your next break) to see how everyone measures up to average.
MY GAIT-RATE ON DECEMBER 3, 2014 is _______ steps/min. (If you're truly a data geek then you can log the conditions of your walk, e.g. icy, 2" of snow, rainy.)
Just as you should be motoring your health tests (blood lipid, DEXA) over time to track trends in your biological performance, you should have a measure of your average mile-time and track it annually.
FIND A MILE ROUTE: You can do this on a track or use a smart phone or GoogleMaps (click on the “walker” icon) to find a one-mile loop from your house or office. Then,
2. TIME YOURSELF WALKING THE 1-MILE LOOP.
MY WALK-A-MILE TIME ON DECEMBER 3, 2014 is _________ min.
Again, this is a great thing to do with your family (homeschool P.E., anyone?) or a work-break. Maybe your house/office can chart everyone’s times and it can be a lunch-time challenge the rest of this month to beat your own time by the end of December. A mile will probably take about 20 minutes, and you’ll still have time to eat your lunch. Unless you're a very mindful walker, or are David Bowie and live/work in a Labyrinth. In that case, bring your lunch with you.
Willis, W.T., Ganley, K. J., & Herman, R.M. (2005). Fuel oxidation during human walking. Metabolism, 54(6), 793-799.