Most people know that getting in more movement throughout the day is often beneficial. How about walking every day, is it a good idea?
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.
Most people are physically capacable of walking a reasonable distance every day. If you can do it without a problem walking every day is certainly better than doing no physical activity.
On the other hand there are many other types of exercise that will offer more health benefits in a shorter amount of time. Exercise recommendations also include muscle-strengthening activities.
So walking every day can definitely be a good idea but for most people, extra exercise on top of that is recommended.
Is it OK 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 reasonable distances every day should be OK 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.
Besides exertion limits, in some circumstances like heavy rain, it may be smart to skip out on a walking session. You can wear quality rain clothes but even then, especially with a weak immune system, you want to think twice before going for a walk in bad weather circumstances.
If you plan on going for long walks or hot temperatures it may also be crucial to bring water while walking to avoid dehydration.
Something else to pay attention to is being visible enough for other road users. Lastly, even if you take all of these things into account you can also take your phone with you when walking in case something does happen.
Negative effects of walking too much
Pushing your boundaries when it comes exercise can be good up to a point but walking too much can lead to some negative effects like:
- Excessive soreness
- Bad mood
- Lack of energy
- Getting sick more often
- Worse sleep
If you think you are walking too much you can put your every day walk on hold for a few days to recover. Also keep in mind that good nutrition and sleep will help you avoid overtraining.
When in doubt about whether you can deal with certain walking distances and speeds you can start off small and gradually build up from there.
Recommended walking distance per day
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.
Depending on your goals and physical capities your personal daily walking recommendations will vary.
That being said, a small amount of walking, even if it is not at record distances or speeds, can offer you important health benefits over doing nothing (3).
Can you lose weight by walking every 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. You can lose weight by walking every day 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.
Calories burned by walking every day
Whether walking every day burns any calories is not the only question. You also want to know how many calories you can expect to burn.
Below you can find a table with estimations for calories burned by walking at 3 mph (4.8 km/h) for different time intervals and body weights. You can find how to burn more calories with walking and estimations for different distances and step counts right here.
Keep in mind that these 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).
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||3 calories||52 calories||103 calories||155 calories||207 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||4 calories||64 calories||128 calories||192 calories||256 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||5 calories||76 calories||153 calories||229 calories||306 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||178 calories||267 calories||356 calories|
It is better than nothing but he 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. If you keep walking the same distance at the same speed you may initially lose some weight. However, once you lose a few pounds you also start burning fewer calories with walking.
Up to a point where walking every day alone won’t be enough to keep seeing weight loss results. When you reach this point you have to make your walking sessions more intense or longer or improve other lifestyle areas to keep losing weight.
What else happens when you walk every day?
Weight loss is not the only change you can expect from walking every day. Some other 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.
While walking can be great there are better alternatives when it comes to more health benefits in a shorter amount of time.
As long as your body is able to deal with it, more intense workouts generally offer more health benefits in a shorter amount of time than walking. If you are not sure whether your body is able to deal with more intense exercise talk to your doctor before making any big lifestyle changes.
Once you are good to go from a safety standpoint you can consider other cardio workout alternatives like running, cycling, swimming, rowing, using the elliptical trainer, etc.
Walking mainly maintains your cardiovascular endurance. This is an important fitness component but it is not the only important one. For optimal health, you also want to work on other fitness components like muscular endurance. You can do this by doing bodyweight exercise or resistance training exercises with extra weights.
Lastly, keep in mind that more health benefits in a shorter amount of time is not the only important aspect of a workout. Part of a good workout plan is staying consistent with it. The workout that does not get done does not offer any benefits. If you really do not like other forms of exercise but you love walking, walking may be the best option for you anyway.