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


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.


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.


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.


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.