What’s Your Walking IQ?

Updated: Feb. 08, 2017

Test your walking knowledge: Whether you're strolling for exercise or for weight loss, you'll learn the benefits of walking with this revealing quiz.

1. Every minute you walk extends your life…

a. 30 seconds.
b. 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
c. 5 minutes.

Answer: B

That’s right, when it comes to lifespan, walking gives you a two-for-one special! Research shows that people who walk tend to live longer and the more they walk, the longer the extension. If you ever doubted it in the past, here’s proof that every minute does indeed count. And don’t dare think that adding a few minutes to your life isn’t meaningful. Over time, those minutes become days, months, and even years.

2. How many miles do you need to walk each week to slash your heart attack risk in half?

a. 6 to 7
b. 12 to 14
c. 18 to 21

Answer: B

The Honolulu Heart study found that men who walked just about two miles a day had half the heart attack risk of their counterparts who walked a quarter mile or less. But far less mileage still has far-reaching cardio benefits. The landmark Nurse’s Health Study of more than 72,000 women found that those who walked three hours per week (which would total about 9 miles at a brisk pace) reduced their heart attack risk by 35 percent.

3. Which brain benefit does walking NOT provide?

a. improved memory
b. higher IQ
c. better problem solving

Answer: B

Okay, walking won’t actually increase your intelligence. But it sure will make you feel smarter. In a study of more than 18,000 women ages 70 and older, researchers found that those who walked at least 1 1/2 hours per week scored higher on tests of memory, general problem solving, and attention, compared to those who walked less than 40 minutes a week. Walking also reduces your risk of developing dementia.

4. What is the average walking pace?

a. 1 mph
b. 2 mph
c. 3 mph

Answer: B

Most people naturally walk between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 miles per hour. That’s fine for window-shopping, but if you want to lose weight and optimize your fitness, aim higher. A good fitness walking speed is 3 to 4 miles per hour, the pace you’d walk if you’re late for a meeting or cruising through the airport to make a flight.

5. Increasing your gait speed will increase…

a. how long you’ll live.
b. your leg strength.
c. your lung capacity.

Answer: A

Yep. Research shows that how fast you walk is a strong indicator of your general health. In a recent study of over-65 walkers, researchers found that those who walked the fastest had lower mortality rates than their slower-speed peers. Need a speed boost? Add intervals to your fitness walks. Every two to three minutes, increase your pace above your comfort zone for 30 to 60 seconds. Eventually, your regular walking speed will be faster, too. Speed up by taking short, quick strides, concentrating on pushing off your toes with every step. Don’t take longer strides; they not only slow you down, but tire you out faster.

6. Which increases your calorie burn the most?

a. walking uphill
b. wearing a backpack
c. carrying hand weights

Answer: B

Wearing a backpack (with a few books or other hefty items inside) or a weighted walking vest can nearly double your calorie burn, scorching about 475 calories an hour. Skip the hand weights; they will burn almost as much, but can also cause injury to your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Prefer to walk unencumbered? Hit the hills. Hoofing against gravity burns nearly as many calories as walking with extra weight.

7. How long do walking shoes last?

a. 6 months to 1 year
b. 1 year to 2 years
c. 3 years

Answer: A

This answer is somewhat dependent upon how often you walk. Most shoes are built to last about 500 miles. After that, cushioning breaks down and your body absorbs the impact instead. If you walk 30 or 40 minutes a day most days a week, replace your shoes before a year is up.

8. How many calories do you burn in one mile of walking?

a. 80
b. 100
c. 200

Answer: B

A person weighing 150 pound burns about 100 calories per mile of walking, compared with 31 calories burned if the same person was seated and reading. That’s good, but still not a whole lot of calories burned overall. Remember: It’s not just the calorie burn that’s important. Walking builds metabolism-revving muscle tissue in your lower body, melts away dangerous belly fat (even if you don’t lose much actual weight), makes your body less insulin-resistant, and improves your heart health, general fitness, and energy levels, so you’re more likely to keep moving (and burning more calories).

9. The average person walks how many steps a day?

a. 5,000 to 6,000
b. 2,000 to 3,000
c. 8,000 to 10,000

Answer: A

That’s about three miles (one mile is about 2,000 steps), which doctors say isn’t enough for optimum health. To shed fat and maximize walking’s myriad health benefits, shoot for 10,000 a day.

10. After a long brisk walk, your body continues to burn calories for…

a. 3 hours.
b. 12 hours.
c. 24 hours.

Answer: B

Kinesiologists find that your calorie-burning metabolism stays revved into the red zone for a full 12 hours after a brisk two-hour walk. That’s particularly good news for people with diabetes: Not only does it mean greater weight loss, but also that your body is using more blood sugar. What better excuse for taking a long walk on Sunday mornings?

11. A walking habit helps beat diabetes by…

a. increasing the number of insulin receptors on your cells.
b. building muscles that requires more blood sugar around the clock.
c. both a. and b.

Answer: C

As the previous question noted, active muscles need fuel to function, not just when exercising, but even when idle. And blood sugar is their fuel. So the more you exercise, the more your muscles require that blood sugar pass into them. And the mechanism for that is through insulin receptors. No coincidence that the more you exercise, the more insulin receptors your cells develop. By the way, walking has many other benefits for people with diabetes. Most notable are helping you to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and release stress.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest