Most people know that more exercise, like walking, in their routine can be beneficial. How about walking 3 miles a day, what can you expect?
Walking 3 miles, 4.83 km, may be popular due to the intuitive attractiveness of the number 3 and walking but that doesn’t mean this is the best distance for your goals with walking more often.
Most people are physically capable of walking 3 miles a day, and it is generally better than doing no exercise. However, for most health goals you want to add more intense aerobic activities and resistance training to your workout routine.
That being said, even if it isn’t the number 1 routine for athletic performance or physical health, getting to walking 3 miles a day and sticking to it can be a fun goal in itself.
This article will go over what to keep in mind and some of the effects of walking 3 miles a day.
Is it safe to walk 3 miles a 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 3 miles a 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.
To avoid blisters and other foot injuries you want to invest in a good pair of walking shoes.
Even though 3 miles is not that far you may want to bring water while walking, especially in hot temperatures, to avoid dehydration.
Besides physical injuries, you also want to pay attention to being visible enough for other road users. You can also take your phone with you when walking in case something does happen.
What is your goal with walking?
The next question you need to ask yourself is what goal you are aiming for with walking 3 miles a day. More walking, and more working out in general, is not always better. Walking every day as your only exercise may not be enough.
A 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.
If your goal with exercising is optimal health and longevity only walking 3 miles a day is likely not the best choice either. You preferably want to implement some weight lifting days and more intense workouts too (1).
If you are physically capable of it, running 3 miles a day is already generally more beneficial.
Walking 3 miles a day is better than doing nothing but for most goals, there are also many workout routines that will be more beneficial.
How many steps is walking 3 miles?
A popular way to measure how active you are throughout the day is by taking a look at your daily steps. Devices like fitness trackers, smartwatches, and even just phones often keep track of this number.
The exact number of steps you personally take every 3 miles depends on different factors like height, speed, and potentially even age. There are however rough estimations available.
Walking 3 miles will require about 5400-6600 steps. You can check out more precise estimations for your personal height and gender in the article on how many steps there are in 1 mile.
How long should it take to walk 3 miles?
Your average walking speed will vary because of details like age, walking surface, where you walk, physical fitness, weather, and much more.
During day-to-day life, most people will have an average walking speed of about 2-3 miles per hour (3.2-4.8 km/h). At this pace, it takes 90-60 minutes to walk 3 miles.
When walking more as a form of exercise, the average person walks about 3 to 4 miles per hour (4.8-6.4 km/h). At this pace, it takes 60-45 minutes to walk 3 miles.
If you walk at the average pace of the world record 20 kilometers of race walking, 9.7 mph (15.7 km/h), it would take you about 18 minutes and 34 seconds to walk 3 miles (2).
These times can be useful to get an idea of how much time of your schedule your walk takes. If you are trying to put on a performance it is generally better to compare your current walking time to your previous walking times instead of the walking speed of other people.
Will you lose weight walking 3 miles a day?
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Walking 3 miles a day can help with weight loss since doing a workout like it generally requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.
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.
How many calories does walking 3 miles burn?
The average person will burn 207-356 calories when walking 3 miles.
Below you can find a table with more precise estimations for individuals of different weights walking at different speeds based on MET values. The numbers may seem counterintuitive but remember that the faster you walk the less time you spend walking.
Keep in mind that these walking statistics are estimations. The calculation method doesn’t take into account certain factors that do influence calories burned with walking. Also keep in mind that these are rounded numbers.
To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
|Walking (2 mph/3.2 kmh)|
|Walking (3 mph/4.8 kmh)|
|Walking (4 mph/6.4 kmh)|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||248 calories||207 calories||177 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||308 calories||256 calories||220 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||367 calories||306 calories||262 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||427 calories||356 calories||305 calories|
The number of calories you can burn with walking is relatively low compared to most other workouts. There are many exercises for burning a lot more calories in a shorter amount of time than walking.
As you can see how much weight you have to carry around is a big factor in how many calories you burn. Some ways to increase this weight and thus the number of calories you burn while walking is by walking with weights like a weighted vest and building muscle.
Other benefits of walking 3 miles a day
Even if it is not the best exercise for calorie burning, walking 3 miles a day can transform your body for the better. Some benefits of walking you can expect include:
- Improved mood
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved bone density
- Lower LDL
- Improved sleep
- Improved coordination
You can also expect similar benefits from other types of exercise to varying degrees. So if you do not like walking every day you can switch it up with other workouts.
Should you walk 3 miles a day?
For most goals implementing more intense workouts and strength training days is helpful. So in general only walking 3 miles a day as a workout routine is likely not the fastest way towards your goals.
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.
Walking 3 miles a day and sticking to it can be a fun goal in itself but most people preferably want to add some more intense walking alternatives focused on cardiovascular health and muscle-strengthening activities in their routine.