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Julian D. Pillay, Tracy L. Kolbe-Alexander, Karin I. Proper, Willem van Mechelen and Estelle V. Lambert

Background:

Brisk walking is recommended as a form of health-enhancing physical activity. This study determines the steps/minute rate corresponding to self-paced brisk walking (SPBW); a predicted steps/minute rate for moderate physical activity (MPA) and a comparison of the 2 findings.

Methods:

A convenience sample (N = 58: 34 men, 24 women, 31.7 ± 7.7yrs), wearing pedometers and a heart rate (HR) monitor, performed SPBW for 10 minutes and 5 indoor sessions, regulated by a metronome (ranging from 60–120 steps/minute). Using steps/minute and HR data of the trials, a steps/minute rate for MPA was predicted. Adjustments were subsequently made for aerobic fitness (using maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) estimates), age, and sex as possible contributors to stepping rate differences.

Results:

Average steps/minute rate for SPBW was 118 ± 9 (116 ± 9; 121 ± 8 for men/women, respectively; P = .022); predicted steps/minute rate for MPA was 122 ± 37 (127 ± 36; 116 ± 39 for men/women, respectively; P < .99) and was similar to steps/minute rate of SPBW (P = .452), even after adjusting for age, sex, and aerobic fitness.

Conclusion:

Steps/minute rates of SPBW correlates closely with targeted HR for MPA, independent of aerobic fitness; predicted steps/minute rate for MPA relates closely to steps/minute rates of SPBW. Findings support current PA messages that use the term brisk walking as a reference for MPA.