The Maths of Walking

In 1892 a scottish mountaineer devised a rule that can be applied to walking.  The rule can be used when planning routes whether on the flat or walking up and down hills, it can be applied to walks following trails, footpaths and other relatively easy terrain. The basics of this rule are as follows…

Allow 1 hour for every 5km (3.1 miles) travelling forwards on fairly even ground, add to that another hour for every 600m (2,000ft) upwards climb.

The rule does not allow for obsticles that may need to be navigated or for rest stops (these need to be added in by yourself), or for stops to look at the views or photograph it.  The rule is also based on a relatively normal standard of fitness so extra time will be needed for people of a lower than normal level of fitness, or less for a higher than normal level.

Other additions to the rule that have been made are

Allowing 1hr for every 4km (2.5miles) of forward travel over rough terrain, and, deducting 10 mins per 1,000 feet of descent on a gentle decline of between 5-12 degrees, over 12 degrees of decline then 10 mins needs to be added for every 1,000 feet of decent.

When you think about this rule it makes perfect sense, when the terrain is easy to navigate then your footfall is quicker as you are more certain of the placement of your feet so you move forward at a steady pace.  When walking up hill you are exerting more energy and breating heavier, your movement is slower and more measured, walking downhill is easier as the gradient and gravity help with your movementand your steps quicken but on a steep decline then your steps become shorter, you are more aware and careful of your foot placement and you slow down and become more careful with your movement.

Although I don’t tend to map my walks and calculate the time of them using this method I have done my own calculations and have worked out that I can cover a km between 9.45 mins and 11.30 mins on most days.  When going up hill I can cover 4 km in around 55 mins and on the flat I cover 4 km in around 40 mins.

And now for yesterdays stats… Did I hit the 10,000 steps target for the day?


If you would like to sponsor me in my challenge of 10,000 steps a day (or Walk All Over Cancer) where I am raising money for Cancer Research, please visit my Just Giving page where a few simple steps will see your donation added to the charity!


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