Outdoor walking speeds of apparently healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Elaine Murtagh, Jacqueline L. Mair, Elroy Aguair, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Marie H Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: The speed at which adults walk is a strong predictor of functional decline, morbidity, and mortality. Traditional estimates of indoor walking speed are unlikely to reflect self-selected usual or other instructed paces of outdoor walking speed. Objective: To inform estimates of pace-based walking speed of apparently healthy adults in outdoor settings. Methods: We searched four electronic databases for articles published in English between January 1970 and March 2019. Studies that reported walking speed (m/s), cadence (steps/min), or intensity (mL/kg/min) of ambulatory, apparently healthy, community-dwelling adults (>18 years) were included. Walking speed categories were defined according to the description provided in each study. Meta-analysis was used to synthesis study, cadence, and intensity data by slow, usual, medium, fast and maximal pace, where reported). Results: Thirty-five studies, representing 14,015 participants (6808 women, 5135 men, 2072 sex not specified), were identified. The mean (95%CI) walking speed for slow, usual, medium, fast and maximal pace was 0.82 (0.77–0.86), 1.31 (1.27–1.35), 1.47 (1.44–1.49), 1.72 (1.64–1.81) and 1.62 (1.45–1.79) m/s respectively. Mean cadence (95%CI) for usual and fast pace were 116.65 (114.95 – 118.35) and 126.75 (121.87–131.63) steps/min, respectively. The mean oxygen consumption (95%CI) for the usual and medium pace was 11.97 (11.69–12.25) and 13.34 (12.94–13.73) mL/kg/min respectively. Conclusion: These findings provide greater clarity with regard to how various indicators of enacted walking pace, speed, and intensity overlap and how each can be best communicated in the real world setting to optimise health-related outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalSports Medicine
Early online date8 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2020

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