What Is Moderate Exercise?
Recommended Moderate Exercise Equals About 100 Steps Per Minute
March 17, 2009 -- What exactly is moderate exercise? A new study
suggests the much-touted moderate-intensity walk should translate to about 100
steps per minute, or 3,000 steps in 30 minutes.
Federal exercise recommendations call for Americans to get at least 150
minutes per week of moderate exercise for optimal health. And some studies have
suggested that moderate-intensity exercise -- like walking -- may be just as
beneficial as more vigorous exercise.
“This presents a challenge because health benefits are dependent on the
intensity of activity, yet there are few valid and reliable monitoring tools
available to the public that are affordable and easy to use,” researchers write
in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
In their study, researchers sought to translate the moderate-exercise
recommendations into easily achievable targets that could be measured using a
Measuring Moderate Exercise
Although pedometers are widely used to measure physical activity by counting
the number of steps a person takes, they can’t measure exercise intensity.
In the lab, exercise intensity is commonly determined by measuring the
amount of oxygen taken in by the body during exercise, known as oxygen
To see how many steps per minute were needed to achieve moderate-intensity
exercise, investigators monitored oxygen uptake in 58 women and 39 men while
they completed four different 6-minute sessions on the treadmill at speeds
ranging from 2.4 to 4.1 miles per hour. All of the participants also wore
pedometers during the exercise sessions.
The results showed that for men the number of steps per minute to reach
moderate-intensity exercise was between 92 and 102. For women, the range was
between 91 and 115 steps per minute.
"We believe that these data support a general recommendation of walking
at more than 100 steps per minute on level terrain to meet the minimum of the
moderate-intensity guideline,” researcher Simon J. Marshall, PhD, of the School
of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University, says in a
“Because health benefits can be achieved with bouts of exercise lasting at
least 10 minutes, a useful starting point is to try and accumulate 1,000 steps
in 10 minutes, before building up to 3,000 steps in 30 minutes,” he says.
“Individuals can monitor their progress using a simple pedometer and a