What Is the Average Heart Rate When Walking?

Walking is a great way to keep your heart healthy as well as the rest of your body. But what heart rate should you be aiming for when out for a brisk walk?

The answer is that it depends on you. It is more helpful to think of your heart rate as a percentage of your maximum heart rate when walking. Knowing your maximum heart rate is a great place to start but if you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor, here are five great ones to look out for;

  1. Fitbit health and fitness smartwatch
  2. Polar H10 heart rate sensor with Bluetooth
  3. Garmin Instinct solar multi-sport GPS watch
  4. Apple smartwatch
  5. Wahoo TICKR FIT heart rate armband

You’ll be glad to know that there are other ways to measure your effort too. A rudimentary way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, a 35-year-old person would have a maximum age-related heart rate of 185 beats per minute (bpm).

If you really want to dig into the research on heart rate and exercise, there are plenty of great studies out there and we would encourage you to have a read of them to get a deeper understanding of the subject.

Average Heart Rate When Walking (2)

Polar suggests that a very light-light workout should be done at 50-70% of your maximum heart rate and this is broadly the range that you should be looking at for a brisk walk. If you have a watch, setting up your heart rate zones before you head out of the door means that you can easily measure your heart rate on-the-go. For our example 35-year-old, that means that the 50% level would be 92 bpm and the 70% zone would be 129 bpm.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that a number of factors can impact your heart rate, including: your route, the weather and your health. A steady walk on a flat route in cool weather will result in a much lower heart rate than a walk at the same pace up a hill in the blistering heat! Taking account of your conditions is important as it means that you can measure your effort in a more meaningful way. You may also find that you are able to sustain a higher pace at a lower heart rate once you’ve achieved an increased level of fitness. Over time, increasing either the pace or the difficulty of your route is a great way to measure the progress you have made.

You can also use the talk test – if you are able to maintain short bursts of conversation whilst out on your brisk walk, you’re probably about right. If talking is too much effort, taking the pace down a notch won’t do any harm. Likewise, if you can hold a sustained conversation, you are probably going too slowly to reap the rewards of a brisk walk.

NHS guidelines suggest that you should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week and walking is a great, low-impact way to achieve that target. Along with activities like swimming and cycling, it keeps your cardiovascular system in shape whilst having a low impact on your joints.

So now you know all about how to measure your effort whilst out on a walk, what are you waiting for? Grab those trainers and get walking!

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