Connect Walking with Mathematics

Examining walking strides, rates, and calories burned are just some of the ways to connect physical education with math.

By Donna Iadipaolo


walking and math lesson plans

Sitting still all day in your seat taking notes can make anybody restless. Why not have students use walking as a way to engage them in experiments and activities to learn about math

One activity might examine different strides for walking. Have students design an experiment to determine what exactly would define a short, medium, or long stride. For instance, you might ask students to measure and mark a certain distance somewhere around the school, such as on a school track, in the gym, cafeteria, or long hallway. Then students could break up the distance into different fractions, such as ¼ the distance, ½ the distance, and ¾ of the distance. Students could then time one another in seconds with a stopwatch to determine how long it takes to travel ¼ of the distance and then calculate how much time it would take to reach the other intervals at each stride. After students make their predictions, students could test their calculations by actually timing the various intervals at different strides.

Another experiment might be to have students calculate their walking rates.  Students could measure the distance walked after certain intervals of time, rather than measuring the time lapse for a certain distance traveled. You can then have students compare and think about the accuracy of each method of measurement.

Yet another activity might entail having students research the rates of calories burned per pound per minute compared to other physical activities that they may engage in, such as bicycling, basketball, or running. Students could then determine the amount of calories that they would burn per minute based on their weight and then create an exercise plan, determining the amount of calories they could burn for their regimens.

A school-wide event that a math class might plan could be a “walk-a-thon.” Students could determine the location, distance, and route for a walk-a-thon. In addition to getting the entire school outdoors walking together, they could raise money for a charity by collecting pledges.  Students might calculate a realistic amount of money that could be raised from a walk-a-thon by determining average pledge rates and/or set pledges.

In conjunction with all of the above activities and experiments, video recorders, spreadsheet programs, and graphing calculators may further enhance the collection and analysis of data.  Here are some more great lessons that relate mathematics to walking.

Walking and Math Lesson Plans:

Measuring Speed With iMovie

Students video record each other walking, running, throwing a ball, or doing a similar activity.  They then import the video clips into an editing program such as iMovie, and determine miles per hour derived from distance traveled in frame per second.

Formulated Fun

Student use the distance formula to calculate the speeds in which they walk and run, and then compare the two speeds. Students also measure the distance around a blacktop, cafeteria, or playground to determine how many times they would have to walk around it to walk a mile. Review more distance formula worksheets.

Animal Tracks - Walking and Running

Students make tracks using paper and water, and record the time necessary to make the tracks. They compare the tracks made while walking versus those of made while running in order to determine speed.

Stepping Out

Students measure the length of their pace when walking and running, and compare their rates with other students.

Migrating Math

Students practice estimating the distance they travel while walking. 

Math Guide

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Donna Iadipaolo