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Walking Builds Aerobic Fitness at both High and Moderate Intensity

Walk Faster or Walk More Often

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Updated November 14, 2005

Updated November 14, 2005
Does walking build aerobic fitness? Do you have to be huffing and puffing to get any aerobic benefit? A study in the Nov. 14, 2005 issue of the "Archives of Internal Medicine" confirms that walking builds aerobic fitness at both moderate and high intensity.

Walking Intensity vs. Frequency

  • Moderate Intensity Walking: Walking at 45-55% of maximum heart rate, an intensity at which you may be breathing a little harder than usual but able to keep up a full conversation.
  • High Intensity Walking: Walking at 65-75% of maximum heart rate. You are able to speak only in short sentences.
  • Low Frequency Walking: 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes a session.
  • High Frequency Walking: 5-7 times a week for 30 minutes a session.
  • Heart Rate Calculator

Walk More or Walk Faster for Aerobic Fitness

Improvements in aerobic fitness were seen in the study group for those who walked with high intensity, either with low frequency or high frequency. But similar benefits for aerobic fitness were also seen for those walking at moderate intensity and high frequency.

"The findings demonstrate that significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness can be achieved and maintained over 24 months via exercise counseling with a prescription for walking 30 minutes per day, either at a moderate intensity five to seven days per week, or at a hard intensity three to four days per week," Glen E. Duncan, Ph.D., R.C.E.P.S.M., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues concluded.
Reference: (Arch Intern Med. 2005; 165: 2362-2369.)

Walking Prescription for Aerobic Fitness

The prescription for aerobic fitness gives you these choices:
  • High Intensity, Low Frequency: 30 minutes per day 3-4 days per week at 65-75% maximum heart rate.
  • Moderate Intensity, High Frequency: 30 minutes per day 5-7 days per week at 45-55% maximum heart rate.
  • High Intensity, High Frequency: 30 minutes per day 5-7 days per week at 65-75% maximum heart rate.

Get Started Towards Greater Aerobic Fitness

Walking Research Studies

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