Do Stops and Starts Affect my Walking Workout?

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Question: Do Stops and Starts Affect my Walking Workout?

I walk my dog for 60 minutes 4-5x a week. We walk at a pretty good pace most of the time, but there are times he stops to sniff or tinkle (within the hour he probably stops a total of 10 minutes). Am I still getting a good workout? Should I be leaving my dog at home and walking at a good pace the whole time?

Answer: For a fitness walk, stops and starts should not greatly affect your workout.

There are two factors you are looking for:

Burning Calories: How many calories you burn depends mostly on the distance you walk, and very little on speed. In fact, you burn a few more calories by stopping and starting, as the body has to expend a little more effort to get moving once it stops.
Walking Calorie Calculators

Heart Rate: Second, if you are aiming to improve your aerobic fitness, you want to keep your heart rate within your chosen zone. Stops and starts can affect that if you stop for more than a few seconds each time.

Do as you see runners do - when you are delayed by a doggie detour or a traffic crossing, keep moving. March in place or pace in small circles, etc. This will keep your heart rate above your resting rate and it will swiftly return to your chosen rate once you resume your pace.
Target Heart Rate Calculator
Walking Workouts

Pace Training Walking Workouts

If you are training for a walking event where you want to set a consistent pace, then leave your canine companion at home one workout each week and use that day to concentrate on your chosen pace.

If your workout normally has you pause at numerous traffic signals, find a track or other unobstructed route for one workout per week.
Walking Pace Calculator

Knowing Your Continuous Walking Speed

Walker-friendly running events often have closed courses so you won't be stopping. If you are entering an event such as a 5K or half marathon or marathon, you will need to know your walking speed and whether you can finish it by the time cutoff.

Walkers are notorious for not knowing their speed, which is something runners track religiously.

If you are using a walking speedometer or app, you will want to walk a continuous mile or kilometer at your best pace to know what your speed is. Some apps and devices will automatically pause the workout during stops, look for that function.

You will find that you walk much faster during an organized event where others are walking and jogging at their best pace. Even if you still make stops to re-tie your shoes, drink water or use the restroom, you are likely to go much faster than you do when walking the dog or waiting at frequent street crossings.
More: How to Predict Your Finish Time

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