Walking is a simple form of exercise and a means of getting from place to place. For most healthy adults, the average walking speed is about 3 mph.

Several factors can affect walking speed. They can include:

  • age
  • sex
  • size
  • overall fitness level

A person’s walking speed can vary based on who they are with or their goal on their walk. Research has associated brisk walking with health benefits that can include slowing aging as well as prevention of some health conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.

This article reviews what the average walking speed is, based on age and sex, what brisk walking is, the health benefits of walking, and more.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Stas Pylypets/Stocksy

A person’s age can affect how fast they walk. Generally, a person’s walking speed will decrease as they age.

The following table is adapted from a 2020 study on walking speed:

AgeKilometers per hour (km/h)Miles per hour (mph)
<304.82 km/h3 mph
30–394.54 km/h2.8 mph
40–494.54 km/h2.8 mph
50–594.43 km/h2.75 mph
>604.34 km/h2.7 mph
>653.42 km/h2.1 mph

Walking is an effective form of exercise for people of any age. Possible benefits can include:

  • improved circulation
  • increased life expectancy
  • improved mood
  • strengthen muscles
  • weight loss or maintenance
  • joint support
  • increased bone density
  • improved sleep
  • decreased Alzheimer’s risk and decreased mental decline
  • improved breathing
  • increased stamina

As a person ages, they may want to speak with a doctor regarding what a safe level of walking is for them.

Walking speeds can vary between sexes as well.

The following table shows the differences between sexes’ walking speeds based on age.

AgeSexMiles per hour (mph)
20–29male3.04
female3.0
30–39male3.2
female3.0
40–49male3.2
female3.11
50–59male3.2
female2.93
60–69male3.0
female2.77
70–79male2.82
female2.53
80–89male2.17
female2.10

In general, males tend to have faster overall walking speed than females. However, studies indicate that people of both sexes will adjust their average walking speed to match an opposite-sex companion.

In an older study from 2013, researchers looked at optimal walking speed. They noted that mass and leg length both affect speed, noting that males tend to walk faster compared to their female counterparts.

They also noted that males will typically reduce speed by a few percentage points while females increase their speed by a few percentage points to match each other when walking together in pairs or groups.

A brisk pace occurs when a person walks faster than they naturally walk. The exact pace is relative to the individual with several potential factors affecting it, including:

  • age
  • sex
  • weight
  • overall health
  • length of time walking

While the exact nature of a brisk pace can vary, a 2018 study sought to generalize what it means to answer the question of how fast is fast enough. They found that for the average person to reach optimal walking speed, they need to have 100 or more steps per minute.

This finding correlates with earlier suggestions that suggest 100 steps per minute or a treadmill speed of 3.5 mph creates a brisk pace for a person.

Walking faster may have some additional health benefits for a person.

In a large study published in 2022, researchers looked at the correlation between brisk walking and leucocyte telomere length (LTL). Telomeres are protective ends to chromosomes. They help to keep a person’s DNA stable.

Scientists use telomere length to measure a person’s biological age. The longer the telomere, the younger in biological age a person is.

In short, increasing LTL can increase a person’s life expectancy and decrease risk of disease and the development of other conditions.

The study found that walking briskly for most of a person’s life decreases biological age by an average of 16 years once they reach midlife. A person can see improvements in LTL length through walking alone, regardless of how much other physical activity they engage in.

This is in addition to the potential benefits a person will experience from walking in general. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a person get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which can include brisk walking.

Walking is a simple, free exercise that nearly anyone can engage in. It does not require specialized equipment, though a good pair of shoes can help prevent injury and increase comfort.

When starting a new walking routine, a person should keep in mind the following:

What a person needs

Though walking requires almost no equipment to get started, the following items can help when a person is just getting started:

  • supportive shoes that fit well
  • sunscreen
  • a water bottle
  • clothing that suits the environment and weather

Create a walking plan

A walking plan may help people prepare for and stick with their exercise routine. Some tips to get started and stay focused include:

  • Start off slowly and build up to faster paces and longer distances.
  • Wear a pedometer.
  • Walk at set times during the day or week.
  • Set reasonable goals for walking, such as walking for 15 minutes and building up from there.

Stay safe

Walking is generally safe, but several factors can lead to injury. Some tips to help a person stay injury-free and safe include:

  • When walking on cloudy days or near dusk, wear reflective clothing, shoes, or vests or carry a flashlight.
  • Replace shoes when they wear out.
  • Stretch regularly before and after walking.
  • Practice good posture and gait when walking.
  • Watch footing.
  • Walk on sidewalks.

A person should speak with a doctor about reasonable goals, expectations, and starting points for walking. A doctor can help advise them based on their overall health, medications, and other factors.

Walking speed for most adults is around 3 mph. The average speed will decrease with age. Sex can also affect speed with males generally walking faster than females.

Brisk walking can benefit a person’s overall health and may help slow aging. Though the pace can vary between people, a person should aim for about 100 steps per minute to achieve a brisk walk.

A person should talk with a doctor before starting a new walking routine. They can provide personalized information on a safe starting point for the person. In general, a person should start off at a slower pace and shorter distance and increase both slowly over time.

Goals can help a person stick with their routine and may include increasing walking speed and distance, or relate to weight or fitness levels.