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Average Walking Speed: Comparison By Age And Sex

How do you stack up?

Walking can be an excellent workout for either weight loss goals or overall wellness and comes along with plenty of other health benefits.

But to reap these benefits, how fast should you walk during your workouts? Should you walk at an easy, moderate-intensity, or brisk walking pace?

If you’re trying to determine how fast you should walk during your workouts and how you stack up to your peers, it can be helpful to know the average walking speeds by age and sex.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. In health.gov (pp. 1–118). https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf, the average walking speed for adults is between 2.5 and 4 miles per hour. 

Where you fall within this range will depend on various factors, so let’s check them out!

Two people walking and looing at each other.

How Long Does It Take The Average Person To Walk One Mile?

Let’s break down the 2.5 – 4-mile per hour average human walking speed range to see how that correlates to the time an average person spends walking a mile.

At the low end of these average walking speeds, it would take 24 minutes to walk a mile. For most people, this is an easy, conversational walking speed.

On the other end of the spectrum, walking at a brisk speed of 4.0 miles per hour would take 15 minutes to walk one mile.

A study2Rasmussen, L. J. H., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Broadbent, J. M., Cohen, H. J., d’Arbeloff, T., Elliott, M., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., Hogan, S., Houts, R., Ireland, D., Knodt, A. R., Meredith-Jones, K., Morey, M. C., Morrison, L., Poulton, R., Ramrakha, S., Richmond-Rakerd, L., & Sison, M. L. (2019). Association of Neurocognitive and Physical Function With Gait Speed in Midlife. JAMA Network Open, 2(10), e1913123. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13123 of 997 middle-aged walkers (aged 45 years old) found that the average walking speeds were 1.30 m/s for usual walking gait and 1.99 m/s for maximum gait.

Using the conversion that one mile equals 1609 meters, the average “usual” walking speed works out to walking one mile in 20.6 minutes, while walking a mile at the average maximum walking speed would take 13.48 minutes.

A person walking in a park.

What Is the Average Walking Speed Based On Age?

Studies have shown that average walking speed decreases with age.

There are many reasons as to3American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. (1998). Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise30(6), 992–1008. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9624662/ why people tend to walk slower as they age, such as the natural decrease in muscle mass (age-related sarcopenia), a loss of muscle strength, a decrease in aerobic capacity (VO2 max), and cardiovascular endurance.

One relatively recent study looked at the impact of age on various factors of walking. The authors shared data about the average walking speed based on age. The table below is an adaptation of that data. 

Note that the average walking speed for the oldest age group varied significantly between different studies, so we took the average of the findings. 

AgeKilometers per hour (km/h)Miles per hour (mph)Walking Pace min/mile
<304.82 km/h3 mph20:00
30–394.54 km/h2.8 mph21:24
40–494.54 km/h2.8 mph21:24
50–594.43 km/h2.75 mph21:40
>604.34 km/h2.7 mph22:13
>652.88 km/h1.8 mph33:30
An older couple powerwalking.

What Is the Average Walking Speed By Age and Sex?

Biological sex can also influence average walking speed. Men tend to walk faster than women, likely due to longer legs, more muscle mass, and a higher average aerobic fitness.

Studies that have investigated the combined effects of sex and age on walking speed have found that the average walking speed for women is slower than that for men when matched by age. 

According to one study,4Schimpl, M., Moore, C., Lederer, C., Neuhaus, A., Sambrook, J., Danesh, J., Ouwehand, W., & Daumer, M. (2011). Association between Walking Speed and Age in Healthy, Free-Living Individuals Using Mobile Accelerometry—A Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS ONE6(8), e23299. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023299 the average walking speeds based on age and sex are as follows:

AgeAverage Walking Speed for Women (mph)Average Walking Speed for Men (mph)
20-293.03.4
30-393.03.2
40-493.113.2
50-592.933.2
60-692.773.0
70-792.532.82
80-892.12.17
A person smiling and walking.

Based on these walking speeds, we can calculate how long it takes on average to walk a mile based on age and sex, as shown below:

AgeHow Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile for Women? (minutes: seconds)How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile for Men? (minutes: seconds)
20-2920:0017:39
30-3920:0018:45
40-4919:1718:45
50-5920:2818:45
60-6921:4020:00
70-7923:4321:16
80-8928:3127:39

What Factors Can Affect Average Walking Speed?

In addition to age and sex, other factors can affect your average walking speed.

Most people have an average comfortable walking speed and an average maximum or brisk walking speed. However, even within these two different extremes for a given individual, there is usually some day-to-day variability in average walking pace.

Here are some additional factors that can affect your average walking speed either on a day-to-day basis for a given individual or between two different individuals of the same age and sex:

People powerwalking at an average walking speed and smiling.

#1: Fitness Level

Your fitness level will significantly impact your average walking speed, particularly over longer-distance walks. 

The fitter you are, the faster you can walk, and the better you will be to maintain your walking speed for longer walks without slowing down.   

#2: Body Weight and Composition

Individuals who are overweight or obese have more body mass to move, so it is more demanding on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems to transport the body from point A to point B. 

This does not mean that heavier individuals will definitely walk slower than leaner individuals, but having a higher body fat percentage can potentially decrease your average walking speed, particularly at a given effort level.

#3: Effort Level

A primary factor affecting your average walking speed is the effort or intensity level with which you are trying to walk. Are you walking comfortably or power walking and pushing the pace as much as possible?

Pumping up that heart rate and walking at a fast pace will result in faster pace walking, where walking at an easy, normal walking speed will result in slower walking.

A person walking up a hill.

#4: Terrain

The terrain you are walking on can definitely affect your average walking speed.

Particularly if you are walking up an incline, such as hiking up a mountain or doing an incline treadmill walk, the metabolic cost of your walking workout will be significantly higher.

Therefore, your resultant average walking speed will likely be slower unless you are purposely exerting significantly more effort for a vigorous workout. 

Additionally, walking on uneven, challenging terrain such as technical hiking trails, soft sand, or slippery and snowy roads can slow your average walking pace because you have to watch your footing and navigate obstacles.

#5: Environmental Conditions

Extreme weather conditions can affect walking speed, where your average speed will likely decrease.

For example, if it is extremely hot and humid outside, your body has to work harder to keep you cool, and you are more likely to experience significant cardiac drift over long-distance walks. This can slow your average walking speed. 

Walking in the wind, cold, rain, sleet, and snow can have similar effects because poor visibility, slippery footing, walking into a headwind, or trying to maintain your core body temperature in freezing conditions are all more taxing on the body than trying to walk on a comfortable dry day.

People walking on a track during a snowstorm.

#6: Carrying an External Load

If you are carrying a heavy pack or some other type of load or wearing a weighted vest to increase the intensity of your workouts, it is normal to see a drop in your average walking speed because your muscles have to work harder to move your heavier body.

If you would like to walk faster, the best thing you can do is improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance by training. Walk consistently, gradually building up your stamina and incorporating intervals of brisk walking to improve your speed.

Try to walk with good form, using a powerful arm swing to drive your legs forward and keep your cadence quick and light.

Moreover, focus on pushing yourself and pushing the pace during your walks. Try listening to upbeat music or using a metronome app to support a faster-walking cadence.

Avoid distractions like checking your phone.

Using a fitness watch or app to track your pace and distance can also be helpful. A pedometer will just count your steps. More data can increase your motivation to walk faster and help you track your progress.

How does your average walking speed compare to others of your age and sex? Remeber, there are plenty benefits of walking that can contribute to your overall health.

Take a look at this next guide to see what they are:

References

  • 1
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. In health.gov (pp. 1–118). https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf
  • 2
    Rasmussen, L. J. H., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Broadbent, J. M., Cohen, H. J., d’Arbeloff, T., Elliott, M., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., Hogan, S., Houts, R., Ireland, D., Knodt, A. R., Meredith-Jones, K., Morey, M. C., Morrison, L., Poulton, R., Ramrakha, S., Richmond-Rakerd, L., & Sison, M. L. (2019). Association of Neurocognitive and Physical Function With Gait Speed in Midlife. JAMA Network Open, 2(10), e1913123. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13123
  • 3
    American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. (1998). Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise30(6), 992–1008. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9624662/
  • 4
    Schimpl, M., Moore, C., Lederer, C., Neuhaus, A., Sambrook, J., Danesh, J., Ouwehand, W., & Daumer, M. (2011). Association between Walking Speed and Age in Healthy, Free-Living Individuals Using Mobile Accelerometry—A Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS ONE6(8), e23299. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023299
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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