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Prev Med. 2002 Oct;35(4):397-400.

Speed and exercise intensity of recreational walkers.

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School of Applied Medical Sciences and Sports Studies, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland.



Brisk walking has been identified as an activity suited to meet American College of Sport Medicine/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for moderate intensity exercise (55-69% HR(max), 40-59% VO(2)R). However, little is known about whether recreational walkers self-select a pace which elicits this intensity and how they interpret the term "brisk walking."


The walking speed of 82 adults was covertly observed in a public park. Fifty-nine of these participants demonstrated their interpretation of "brisk walking" and the speed was noted. Eleven of these subjects subsequently walked on a treadmill at their observed and "brisk walk" speeds. Heart rate (HR), respiratory gases, and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured.


Mean observed and "brisk" walking speeds were 1.56 +/- 0.17 m. s(-1) and 1.79 +/- 0.19 m x s(-1) respectively (P < or = 0.001). Mean exercise intensities during the treadmill test (n = 11) were 59.0 +/- 13.4% VO(2max) and 67.3 +/- 11.6% HR(max) for the observed speed (1.60 + 0.24 m x s(-1)). The brisk speed (1.86 +/- 0.12 m x s(-1)) equated to 68.6 +/- 14.9% VO(2max) and 78.5 +/- 15.5% HR(max).


The speed and intensity selected by this group of walkers meets current recommendations for moderate intensity exercise. Instructing individuals to "walk briskly" prompts more vigorous activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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