The average time it takes for a fit man to walk a mile hovers somewhere around 15 minutes. There are many variables to consider here though, such as elevation, terrain and age.
Why Walking Pace Matter
Walking a mile may seem like a meager accomplishment to some and a death sentence to others. Yet, this straightforward accomplishment is significant and points directly to the quality of life a person has and is on course for. As a matter of fact, the Rockport Walking Test is one of the first assessments a trainer may use on a new client.
In the above-mentioned Rockport Walking Test, a trainer will ask a client to walk as briskly as they can for one mile on level ground. Afterward, the trainer will immediately take the client’s heart rate and perform some pretty detailed calculations in order to determine how efficiently this person’s body is using oxygen, also called VO2 Max. VO2 Max is considered the best indicator of overall health and fitness.
What Does VO2 Max Tell Us
We all understand that oxygen is important to survival. A person cannot live for more than a few minutes without oxygen; we HAVE to breath. Yet, there is much more to the relationship than that. Every process in your body is part of the same fundamental operation: using oxygen to process energy. We don’t just “need” oxygen. Rather, we MUST be able to make excellent use of oxygen at all times in order to have a good quality of life.
Fitness is The Ability to Make Excellent Use of Oxygen
It really is ultimately that simple. Being a fit person is not about throwing hundreds of pounds on a barbell; and it is not about having the backside of a horse. Being fit means that your body is functioning efficiently; it means that you are able to bring oxygen into your lungs and get it to where it needs to be without issue or delay. The oxygen that you take in is then used to burn the energy (sunlight) we have consumed in the form of foods. This process (metabolism) provides each cell with the energy they need to do their jobs (i.e. beating heart, contracting muscle, hormone release, etc.)
So, what does this have to do with walking?
Benefits of Brisk Walking
Our bodies are amazing machines. They adapt to the load that is placed upon them in just such a way that they will be able to manage that same load in the future. Assuming that the load is not too excessive or too repetitive.
Walking is a low-impact, full body exercise that almost anyone can do. Furthermore, anyone (regardless of fitness level) can tax their body adequately through simple walking by controlling the variables of the exercise. For an unfit or injured person, walking at a slow pace is sufficient. As the body adapts to walking, variables must be introduced (or tweaked) in order to continue taxing it (thus increasing fitness level). While added weight and increased grade can trigger adaption in the body, the most common variable to alter is speed. By simply walking faster, the person’s body must become more efficient at handling oxygen; thus, the person is becoming more fit. All things considered, the person who can walk a mile the fastest is the more fit person.
The Importance of Brisk Walking
Becoming or maintaining fitness typically brings to mind images of joggers, cyclists, weight lifters, or thin people with smiles on their faces. But the truth is being fit is the ability to live and function with relative freedom and efficiency. Being able to walk across a parking lot, being able to tie your own shoes, being able to process air and calories effectively … these seemingly small things become huge when a person becomes sedentary and loses the ability to perform them. The ability to walk briskly is often an underestimated asset to overall quality of life.
Health Benefits of Being Able to Walk A Mile Quickly
- Reduced Stress – walking (especially in a beautiful area) leads to release of feel-good hormones and shuts down cortisol release.
- Weight Loss – The physical act of walking burns calories (the faster the better); moreover, the reduction in cortisol levels will further enhance weight loss (especially around the belly.)
- Decreases Metabolic Syndrome – Walking is directly tied to enhanced insulin sensitivity, decreased blood pressure, lower body fat, and more ideal cholesterol levels.
- Joint health – Most of us understand that walking is low impact, but there is more to it than that. Walking actually enhances the health of our joints. When we walk, blood flow to the joints increases; thus, delivering nutrients and shuttling waste away from them. In addition, the pressure created within the joint mobilizes the fluid within, lubricating the joint.
- Balance – One day we are nimbly running through a playground and seemingly the next we are tripping over our shadows. Balance (like our oxygen capacity and muscle strength) exists in a “use it or lose it” reality. A few years of sitting on the couch, in an office chair, or in a driver’s seat will deteriorate a person’s balance quickly, and injury will follow. Walking (especially on uneven terrain) is a great way to maintain or gain balance.
How Long Does it Take You to Walk A Mile?
Walking has benefits across the health spectrum. Moreover, how fast you can cover a mile will tell a lot about your overall health and quality of life going forward. Perform your own Rockport Walking Test, and see where you currently stand. Then begin making improvements by pushing yourself just enough to create adaption in your body. This is easy to do by introducing a 30-second interval that really taxes your body. Then, slow down, catch your breath, and repeat … Remember to practice good form (don’t overextend your step forward), stay hydrated, and have some good, inspiring music on your headset. A good fitness watch or tracker is a fantastic walking companion as you can monitor heart rate, elapsed time, and calorie burn without much forethought.