How Fast is Brisk Walking?

What's an Ideal Pace?

Powerwalking Women
Powerwalking Women. David Madison/The Image Bank/Getty

Brisk walking is often reported to have benefits for fitness and to reduce health risks when compared to walking at an easy pace. But what is brisk walking? How fast do you have to walk for it to be considered a brisk walking pace?

Brisk Walking Rule of Thumb

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines brisk walking as being at a pace of three miles per hour or more (but not racewalking) or roughly 20 minutes per mile.

That equates to about five kilometers per hour or 12 minutes per kilometer.

However, fitter people still will not be in a moderately intense exercise zone at that pace. A pace of 15 minutes per mile, or four miles per hour, is more likely to put fitter people into a moderately intense exercise zone. That equates to 9 minutes, 15 seconds per kilometer or 6.5 kilometers per hour.

You can use our walking pace calculator to find your walking pace by inputting your distance walked (miles or kilometers) and time, to get results in minutes per mile or minutes per kilometer.

Walking speedometers and apps may give a readout in either minutes per mile/kilometers per mile or in miles per hour/kilometers per hour. The popular Garmin Forerunner 15 uses GPS or a footpod to measure speed indoors or outdoors, and will also link with a heart rate monitor to measure your exercise intensity.
Buy Garmin Forerunner 15 at Amazon.com

Brisk Walking Means Moderate Intensity Exercise

Brisk walking actually refers to your exertion. For your walking pace to be brisk, you need to be breathing harder than usual. While you should still be able to speak in full sentences, you shouldn't be able to sing.

The moderate intensity zone is defined by the CDC as being from 50% to 70% of their maximum heart rate.

This varies by age. The best way to measure exertion is by pulse rate or heart rate and using a target heart rate calculator to see whether you are in a moderate intensity zone for your age.

Tools For Finding Your Heart Rate

  • How to Take Your Exercise Pulse: Use these methods to find your heart rate while you are exercising so you know if you are in the moderate intensity zone.
  • Pulse Monitors: Gadgets that read your pulse include ones that read it continuously, such as the Fitbit Charge 2, and those you can use to take your pulse on demand, including the Azumio Instant Heart Rate app.
  • Heart Rate Monitors: These use a chest strap to give you a continuous heart rate readout that is as accurate as a medical ECG, and often calculate your target heart rate zones automatically.

Getting Up to Brisk Walking Speed

If you find your usual walking pace doesn't reach the level of brisk walking and you want to speed up, use this tutorial: How to Walk Faster.

Many people can increase their walking speed by using simple posture, stride and arm motion techniques.

Wearing flexible athletic shoes and clothing that allows free movement will also help you speed up. But if you are very fit, you may not be able to walk fast enough to raise your heart rate into the moderate intensity zone. You would have to switch to racewalking technique or running.

Brisk Walking Workouts

Sources:

Measuring Physical Activity Intensity. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 4, 2015. Accessed: December 26, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/measuring/index.html

Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 10, 2015. Accessed December 26, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/measuring/heartrate.html

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