Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Americans are also the worst at this.
The World Heart Federation recently surveyed some 7,367 people across six countries with two simple questions: On a typical day, how much time would you guess you spend casually walking at a slow or normal pace, and how much time would you say you spend briskly walking a bit faster than normal?
The most telling result wasn't the average time people devote to this basic activity (which, you know, is good for your heart), but the fact that a whole lot of the respondents had no clue what to answer at all. One in three adults in the United States and the U.K. said they did not know how much time they spent briskly walking (and you have to admit this is a much easier question than "how far do you walk every day?"). In India, the figure was much lower – one in six. Across the six countries, also including Brazil, China and Spain, the average was about a quarter of all respondents.
Overall, of the people who did have a guess, 55 percent said they walk briskly less than 30 minutes a day. But we're going to go ahead and guess that people who don't know how much time they spend walking probably do even less of it.
From the World Heart Federation's point of view, paying attention to how much you walk should be as simple as paying attention to what you eat (with equally real implications for your health). We know from other data, in contrast, that when you ask people how much time they spend sitting in traffic commuting, they're pretty quick to answer.