Regular exercise and physical activity improves mood, helps with depression, makes you feel energised, improves muscle mass and tone, and helps keep blood pressure and blood glucose levels in check.
Walking is one of the best activities you can do.
Exercise experts recommend moderate and high intensity to reap the benefits of regular exercise.
If you can ‘just or barely hold a conversation’ with your walking parter or out aloud with yourself, you are walking at a moderate intensity. If you are ‘huffing and puffing’, the intensity is vigorous. The problem with these methods is it is easy to slow down when you are not chatting away or slack off.
I now recommend another free more reliable method to set the pace and maintain the intensity of walking. It is based on recent research that shows a pace of 100 steps a minute represents moderate intensity and 130 steps a minute represents vigorous intensity walking.
My cost free approach is to download a free metronome app on your smart phone so you can hear how fast to walk.
A metronome sets a regular tempo, pace or beat. The beat is heard as a sound coupled with blinking lights, moving lights or a swinging pendulum. Musicians know all about metronomes.
Once you have downloaded the app, set the metronome to 100 beats per minute and let it tick loudly away while you are walking. It clicks away at a regular pace. Now walk to the rhythm. Adjust your steps to match the beat.
The starting goal is to improve your fitness aiming initially for a 30-minute walk at 100 beats per minute, on most days.
If this is too easy for you, either increase the pace (towards 130 beats per minute) during the 30-minute walk or increase the length of the walk (heading to 60-minutes at 100 beats a minute or even faster if you feel fit enough).
Plan to walk longer or do it more intensely if you are not physically active every day.
But if 100 beats a minute is too hard and too intense, start slower and work your way up.
What do I use to check and set my walking pace? The metronome I downloaded for free is called ‘Metronome Beats’ by Stonekick. It is simple to use and fuss free. There are many other metronome apps to choose from and I encourage you to find one that suits you. I have no affiliation with this app or developer. My musician friends recommended this app to me.
If you have money spare, you could invest dollars in a fitness watch to monitor and track your pace and intensity. I'd rather spend my money on great food than another fitness gadget.
Walking at this pace is a general recommendation only. Do not launch into any vigorous exercise routine without guidance from your doctor and an exercise physiologist or personal trainer.