Most people know that more exercise, like walking, in their routine can be beneficial. But what is the recommended walking distance per day?
Walking is an attractive way to get in more movement throughout the day. You can fit in small blocks throughout the day, things do not necessarily get sweaty, it is a low-impact workout, and there are many other benefits of walking.
If you follow the very general exercise guidelines you want to walk about 11.25 miles a week at a pace of at least 3 miles per hour and have 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities.
That comes down to about 1.61 miles, or 2900-3500 steps, a day.
This is a nice walking statistic but in reality, the recommended walking distance a day for you personally and your personal goals will vary.
This article will also go over whether it is OK for you to walk every day and if and how much you should walk depending on the specific goal you have in mind.
Is it OK for you to walk every day?
In the case of most workouts more is not always better. Overtraining can lead to injuries and not feeling good in general. Consistency is a big part of working out. The effectiveness of your workout plan will go down drastically if you can’t exercise for 2 weeks every month because of injuries.
That being said, even if you are not very physically fit, walking every day should be safe for most people. The human body is made to walk around. There are of course always exceptions. When in doubt talk to your primary care provider before making changes in your lifestyle habits.
If you plan on implementing more walking you may want to invest in a good pair of walking shoes to avoid blisters and other foot injuries. You also want to pay attention to being visible enough for other road users to avoid any accidents. You can do this by wearing reflective gear.
If you plan on doing long walks in high temperatures you may also want to carry water while walking to avoid dehydration. In any case, you can take your phone with for if something happens.
General exercise recommendations
Walking the right amount per day for your personal goals is not as simple as walking a certain distance recommendation for everyone. There are general exercise recommendations but these do not result in the same amount of walking for everyone.
At the time of writing the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends the following exercise guidelines to adults (1):
- Moving more and sitting less throughout the day
- At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Preferably spread throughout the week.
- You can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
The CDC mentions that brisk walking can be considered moderate-intensity exercise (2). They mention that at moderate-intensity exercise you should be able to talk but not sing. The estimation for brisk walking is walking at least 3 miles per hour.
If you want to do 225 minutes of moderate-intensity walking a week this will come down to 11.25 miles a week. With this calculation, the recommended walking distance per day is 1.61 miles at a tempo of 3 miles per hour. Do not forget the muscle-strengthening activities.
It should be clear that these are very rough general recommendations. A walking session is not an equally intense exercise for different individuals. Also, if this is literally the only movement you do and sit the rest of the day your amount of exercise may still be rather lacking for many goals.
What is your goal with walking?
Besides the general guidelines you may be interested in recommended distances for specific goals. The 2 most common goals with walking are health benefits and weight loss.
While walking itself certainly offers many health benefits, the thing is that generally more intense workouts offer these benefits to a larger extent. So in general for optimal longevity, you want to walk a lot and even better do more intense workouts like swimming, cycling, jogging, etc.
There is of course an upper limit where more exercise is unhealthy. However most reasonably healthy people with a busy life will not reach these upper limits with walking alone.
Another popular reason many people start to, and stick to, walking is to lose weight. While walking alone can be enough to lose some weight, other workouts can help you more with this. You likely want to have some weight lifting days too. On top of that, nutrition generally plays a bigger role than workouts when trying to lose weight.
Below you can find estimations for how many calories you burn by walking certain distances. If you want estimations for calories burned at different walking speeds, step counts, and how to burn more calories while walking, check out the article on how many calories walking burns.
|1 Mile (1.6 Km)||2 Miles (3.2 Km)||3 Miles (4.8 Km)||4 Miles (6.4 Km)||5 Miles (8.1 Km)|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||69 calories||138 calories||207 calories||276 calories||345 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||85 calories||171 calories||256 calories||342 calories||427 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||102 calories||204 calories||306 calories||408 calories||510 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||119 calories||237 calories||356 calories||474 calories||593 calories|
So walking an extra 3 miles a day could help you burn 2560 calories in 10 days which is about 0.73 pounds of body fat. 30 days 7680 calories and so on…
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intense to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.