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Objective and subjective assessments of normal walking pace, in comparison with that recommended for moderate intensity physical activity

Taylor, K and Fitzsimons, Claire and Mutrie, Nanette (2010) Objective and subjective assessments of normal walking pace, in comparison with that recommended for moderate intensity physical activity. International Journal of Exercise Science, 3 (3). pp. 87-96. ISSN 1939-795X

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Abstract Despite its common application and widely reported health benefits, walking, in relation to pace and intensity, is under-researched. Few studies have addressed whether people normally walk at a pace which meets the public health recommendations for moderate intensity physical activity (1.34-1.79 ms-1) and there is no known research on individuals’ perceptions of factors which influence walking pace. This study aimed to objectively assess if participants were reaching the pace required for moderate intensity physical activity during ‘normal’ walking. This was examined via a Global Positioning System (GPS) over a 1 km outdoor walk and a timed 150 m trial. In both tests participants (n=10, 3 men, 7 women mean age 54 years (SD 8 years)) were instructed to walk at their ‘normal’ pace. Through short interviews, the study also investigated the factors that participants thought influenced their pace. All participants successfully walked at a pace considered as moderate intensity (≥1.34ms-1). Height was significantly correlated with ‘normal’ walking pace,. The interviews provided an in depth insight into factors that affect walking pace; ground surface and footwear were mentioned frequently and the influence of the weather provided conflicting views, prompting a need for further research in the area. The GPS device showed enormous potential as a human locomotion measurement tool, enabling participants to walk unobstructed and unobserved in an outdoor setting, making the results relevant to real life situations.