Has the Normal pace of Walking Changed over Time?

According to a 2007 study by the University of Hertfordshire and the British Council, people today walk 10% faster than they did 10 years ago. The study analyzed 30 different cities from around the world and discovered that an average pedestrian walks 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) per hour. A similar study was done in 1997 in which it was found that pedestrians walked an average of 2.97 to 3.27 miles (4.7 to 5.2 kilometers) per hour. This means that the average walking speed in cities have increased about 10% within a decade.

The walking rates measured by the study did vary from city to city. Pedestrians in Singapore, Copenhagen and Madrid walked the fastest. New York City surprisingly came in eighth on the list of cities with the speediest walkers. Pedestrians of the African country Malawi were discovered to walk the slowest among those observed in the study, about one third of the speed of those in Singapore.

Some experts are concerned about the increase of walking pace, considering it to be a measure for the pace of city life. They argue that faster living, high stress, poor diet and greater use of technology in metropolitan areas may increase the risk of health problems such as heart attacks.

More about people and fast living:

  • People on average spend 3 seconds to look at each picture at a gallery, compared to 10 seconds per picture several decades earlier.
  • Written communication on the internet and in text messages are becoming shorter as people abbreviate more to save time and effort.
  • People are observed to be more impatient than before, many considering a wait beyond 15 seconds as a waste of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has the average walking speed of humans changed throughout history?

Yes, the average walking speed has varied over time, influenced by factors such as urbanization, lifestyle changes, and social norms. A study published in the journal 'Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour' found that pedestrian walking speeds have slightly increased in urban areas over the past few decades, likely due to the faster pace of life and increased time pressures in cities.

What factors contribute to changes in walking speed over time?

Several factors contribute to changes in walking speed, including environmental design, population density, and technology. Urban environments with high population densities and well-designed pedestrian infrastructure tend to encourage faster walking speeds. Additionally, the advent of mobile technology has led to a more distracted walking pace for many individuals, potentially offsetting the trend towards faster speeds in some contexts.

How does walking speed vary across different cultures or regions?

Walking speed can vary significantly across different cultures and regions. According to a study by Bornstein et al. (1990), which analyzed walking speeds in 31 countries, people in East Asia tend to walk at a slower pace compared to those in Western countries. This variation is often attributed to cultural attitudes towards time, social interactions, and the built environment of cities.

Are there any health implications associated with changes in walking speed?

Changes in walking speed can have health implications. For instance, a slower walking pace may be associated with a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Conversely, a brisk walking pace is often linked to better cardiovascular health and lower body mass index (BMI). Researchers have also used walking speed as an indicator of overall health and longevity in older adults.

Can the change in walking speeds be linked to technological advancements?

Technological advancements have both directly and indirectly influenced walking speeds. The rise of smartphones and other mobile devices has led to an increase in distracted walking, which can reduce pace. On the other hand, advancements in urban planning technology and transportation have facilitated the development of pedestrian-friendly spaces that can promote faster walking speeds by reducing congestion and improving walkability.

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