Tracking the Benefits of Walking

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on August 1, 2019 · 0 comments

Federal guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly. For the average person, this recommendation does not translate into practical daily advice. In scientific terms, moderate intensity exercise is defined as an activity that requires 3 METs (metabolic equivalents of a task). Or in plain English, an activity that uses up three times the amount of oxygen that would be consumed while sitting still. Vigorous exercise typically equals 6 METs.

Researchers attempted to translate METs into steps/minute. They found that 100 steps/minute equaled moderate exercise (3 METs); 130 steps/minute equaled vigorous exercise or 6 METs. They also found that when a person added 10 additional steps a minute it was roughly associated with the addition of 1 MET in intensity. Walking 110 steps/minute equaled 4 METs and 120 steps/minute equaled 5 METs. The transition between fast walking and running usually occurred at greater than 140 steps/minute.

Bottom line: Modern life often avoids activity. A simple and powerful health message is just walk – often and a little faster than you normally would.

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