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Walking: How Fast Can You Walk? How Many Miles per Hour is Fast Walking Speed?

Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

How fast can you walk?

The tables below provide walking speed results for 3 different walking paces. You can easily determine how long it takes to walk a block or a mile. If you can accurately estimate how fast you can walk, you can determine how long your walking trip will take. For example how long would it take to walk a mile to the grocery store?

Walking at any speed is good for you

Everyone knows walking is better for you than driving a car. Walking provides exercise, fresh air, and gives you quiet time to think. You don't use gas and put wear and tear on your car if you drive. But people seem to automatically jump into their cars even for short errands.

Today I dropped my car off at the shop and they gave my a ride to work. When my car was ready, the shop manager offered to arrange a shuttle to pick me up. I told him I would rather walk. This seemed to take him by surprise, maybe because it was 10 degrees outside, and maybe because almost no one walks to pick up their car from the shop. I think one impediment to walking more is not being as confident in estimating how long it will take. I would say driving to the shop would take about 10 minutes. It's only 2 miles, but there are lots of stoplights and stop signs along the way and the speed limit is 20 to 35mph.

It took me 40 minutes to walk to the car shop. It should have taken 28.3 minutes. What happened during the other 11.7 minutes?

Walking speed at slow, medium, and fast walking paces

I decided to figure out how long it takes to walk a given distance, assuming walking in town on sidewalks. I kept track of my exact route. I used a stopwatch on my cell phone to keep track of my time. And I tried 3 different walking paces:

  1. Leisurely. This is a slow walking pace. The pace you would walk while eating lunch as you walk, or while texting while you walk. People would try to pass you if you were walking this slow. This is a pace you could keep up indefinitely without tiring.
  2. Purposeful. This is not maximum speed, but a deliberate walking pace. Walking when you have someplace to go. I would describe this as a comfortable walking pace.
  3. Brisk. This is fast walking. People look at you walk this fast. When you see people at the airport trying to catch a flight, this is brisk pace. Arms pumping, near maximum walking speed.

How to Measure Walking Route Distance with Google Map Pedometer

One way to measure walking distance is to use a pedometer. The Omron HJ-112 Pocket Pedometer available on for $22.49 looks like a nice one. It counts your steps, calculates distance walked, and can store 7 days of walking history. But I don't have a pedometer. Does the fact that I really want one of these mean that I am not truly a frugal penny pincher like my wife, kids, friends co-workers, store employees, and even complete strangers say that I am? Or does the fact that I have not bought a $20 pedometer after wanting one for years mean that I am actually a true penny pincher?

Another way to measure distance would be to use the odometer in my car. Of course, one of the virtues of walking is to avoid using gas and putting wear and tear on my car. Plus it would be a hassle to read my notes of which blocks were walked with which pace and make measurements of specific sets of blocks.

I found a free amd easy way to measure distance along walking routes: Google Map Pedometer This is a mapping tool that uses Google Maps. You can enter your walking route block-by-block using the Map, Satellite, Hybrid, or Terrain views. You can save your routes for future use. This is the way I found the distances I needed to calculate my walking speed. This would be a great tool to look at places you go and figure out what may be walkable trips.

How long does it take to walk one mile?

First the easy part: Miles. Everyone agrees on the length of a mile. No one agrees on the length of a block.

Table of  time to walk a given distance vs. walking pace

Table of time to walk a given distance vs. walking pace

You can see that a leisurely walking pace takes about twice as long as a brisk walking pace. Rembember that brisk was basically walking as fast as possible. Most people couldn't keep up that pace for a full mile. I would look at the purposeful pace for estimation purposes, about 14 minutes to walk one mile.

How long does it take to walk one block?

The length of a block is different in different cities and even in different parts of town. I averaged some blocks along my route together and came up with 650 feet as the length of an average block in my neighborhood.

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Table of time to walk 1 block at various walking paces

Table of time to walk 1 block at various walking paces

So in terms of miles per hour, the purposeful walking pace works out to 4.2 miles per hour. In terms of blocks, you could plan on about 0.6 blocks per minute, or one block every 104 seconds. So if the dentist's office is 8 blocks away, you could plan on about 800 seconds, which is about 13 minutes.

A rule-of-thumb is that you can walk 6 blocks in 10 minutes. Again, this is an average and will depend on the size of blocks in your area. You can always use Google Map Pedometer to figure out the distance of your route.

Penny Pinching Tips:

  • Walking is a free. No equipment required! No reason not to start today.
  • For Extreme Penny Pinchers: Look for money while you are walking. I have found $20 bills while walking on more than one occasion!
  • Leave the car behind for short trips when possbile to save money, especially on trips when you don't have to haul anything.
  • If you worry that walking will take too much time, estimate the distance, then estimate how long it will take based on walking 4 mph or 6 blocks in 10 minutes.
  • Want to go faster? Try riding a cheapcycle (cheap bicycle).

Recommended Reading:

Pedometer Test Drive: How accurate can a pedometer measure walking distance? Is a pedometer worth the money?

Calculate how long it takes to walk any distance- Select your walking speed and distance and click "Compute" to calculate how long it will take to walk. Click the link below and scroll down to use the Walking Time Calculator:

How Long Does It Take To Walk X Miles or X kilometers?

© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher


Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on January 28, 2013:

Interesting- that's some fast walking!

Teresa Schultz from East London, in South Africa on January 27, 2013:

Great info - interesting! Tony and I have used the Google Map Pedometer to look at a route of a fun run or road race we are going to do (that's a big when, as we're unfit but do try to compete in the odd fun run or road race or two) working out where we'll be at certain distances into the race, just for fun mostly. How fast do I walk? Mostly your second speed mentioned: Purposeful, but when I'm doing a race, pretty quick I think - I do that "duck-waddling" walk - race-walking. As said, unfit now, but my fastest 10km (about 6.2 miles) walking time a few years back was just-just under 60 minutes. Voting your hub up and interesting and sharing with my HubPages followers.

Shasta Matova from USA on January 20, 2013:

I think the fact that you haven't bought a pedometer means you are a true penny pincher - we always want stuff, it is whether you actually spend $ on it that counts. I don't have one either. Great hub - so often I think something is going to take so long that I am going to get tired. And great motivation too - you save time since you won't have to go to the gym if you make up your own exercise routine by simply staying active. You've convinced me. I am going for a walk now.

Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on January 15, 2013:

Interesting hub.

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