But, just because we know that walking is important is not necessarily specific enough to know how much walking we have to do to support our health.
This leads many people to wonder, “How many miles a day should I walk?”
In this article, we will discuss daily walking recommendations and factors that can affect how far you should walk per day, ultimately aiming to answer the question: how many miles should you walk in a day?
We will cover the following:
- How Many Miles Should You Walk In A Day?
- What Is the Maximum Number of Miles I Should Walk In a Day?
Let’s jump in!
How Many Miles Should You Walk In A Day?
There isn’t a straightforward answer to how many miles you should walk in a day because the question is somewhat ambiguous.
In other words, the question needs to be further specified with an intended goal. Examples include the following:
- How many miles should you walk in a day for health and disease reduction?
- How many miles should you walk in a day to lose weight?
- How many miles should you walk in a day when training for a walking event?
- How many miles should you walk in a day as a maximum to prevent overtraining and injuries?
The specific answers to each of these “How many miles should you walk in a day” questions will vary, not only from question to question depending on the specific goal that was asked about, but also somewhat from individual to individual in certain circumstances.
Let’s look at each of these different walking goals to help you answer the question: how many miles a day should I walk?
How Many Miles Should I Walk A Day to Improve Health?
If your goal with walking is to improve your health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, you should aim to meet the physical activity guidelines for adults set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the UK Government.
These guidelines state that you are to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average walking speed for adults is between 2.5-4 miles per hour.
If we take the mean of that average walking speed range (3.25 mph), it takes 18:45 to walk a mile. That means that 150 minutes of walking per week works out to 8 miles of walking per week or just over a mile per day.
One study found that walking just 4,400 steps per day reduces the risk of death by 41% compared to walking fewer than 2,700 steps per day.
The mortality risk continues to decline up until about 7,500 steps per day, when it levels off.
Walking 4,400 steps is equivalent to roughly 2.5 miles while walking 7,500 steps is about 3.5 miles.
How Many Miles Should I Walk A Day to Lose Weight?
The recommendations for exercising for weight loss are to try and lose one pound of fat per week, which corresponds to a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories.
Given that walking a mile burns about 100-130 calories (or more), this works out to walking 5 miles a day (or less for larger individuals).
How Many Miles Should I Walk A Day to Train for an Event or Get In Shape?
If you decide that you want to train for a walking event, you will need to look at the distance of the event and then either develop a walking training plan or download a walking training program that will prepare you for that walking distance.
For example, some people decide to walk a 5K for a community charity walk, or you might even set your sights high on walking a half marathon. Perhaps you want to train for a hiking trip that will have you hiking 10 miles a day for five or six days in a row.
Basically, whatever walking distance or walking event catches your eye will largely dictate how many miles you need to walk per day in training.
However, you do not need to walk the full distance of the walking race or walking event in training every single day.
If you are doing a shorter distance walking event, such as a 5K walk or 10K walk, you may want to walk the full distance in training once or twice a week.
However, if you are training to walk a half marathon or marathon, aim for one long walk per week that builds up to within a few miles of the event distance.
In addition to your weekly long walk, you should have several shorter walks per week.
How far you need to walk per day for these aerobic walks will depend on the distance of the event you are training for.
If you are a beginner walker training for a 5k walk, you will likely walk at least 2 miles a day during the shorter walks and should build up to walking 3 miles a day if you have the time and interest.
On the other hand, if you are training to walk a 10K, you may walk 3 to 4 miles per day outside of your long walk distance.
The longer the distance of the walking race or walking event you were training for, the shorter the relative percentage of these daily walking mileage goals.
Even though walking is a low-impact activity relative to running, walking still puts stress on your body, and you do not want to overdo it by walking too much every day.
For example, if you are training to walk a half marathon (13.1 miles), you want to have one endurance walk per week that builds up to 10 to 13 miles, but most of the other days, your daily walking mileage can be closer to 4 to 8 miles, depending on your fitness level, time available to walk, and the point in your training plan.
Most walking training plans build up in how many miles you walk per day as the plan progresses towards the event, so you may start with walking 3 miles a day, and then eventually, you will be walking 8 miles a day most days of the week.
To this end, another factor to consider when deciding how far to walk in a day when you are training for an event is the logistics of walking long distances. Even if you are walking at a brisk pace, walking more than 4 miles a day is going to take over an hour.
You may not have time in your schedule every day for walking for several hours, which will then place logistical limits on how many miles you can walk in a day.
Finally, depending on your goals for your walking event, you might want to do some higher-intensity walking workouts with intervals of power walking and/or incline walking.
When you increase the intensity of your walks or simply do a brisk walk, it is more tiring and stressful for the body. This may mean that you will not walk as many miles per day for high-intensity walking workouts.
If you are interested in training for a walking event, check out some of our walking guides and walking training plans that will give you structure to your training and will tell you how many miles you need to walk a day in training.
What Is the Maximum Number of Miles I Should Walk In a Day?
If you love walking, you may ask, “How many miles can I walk in a day?”
Here, the operative word is can rather than should.
For most people, the risk of overtraining or getting injured by walking too many miles per day is certainly lower than it is for running because the magnitude of the impact stress when you walk is about half as much as they are when you run.
Walking is also usually less taxing from a physiological standpoint than running because most people walk at a lower relative percentage of their maximum heart rate.
However, this is not to say that you can’t get injured by walking too many miles per day or that you can’t put your body at risk for overtraining syndrome by walking too much.
It’s not possible to put universal limits that will apply to everyone on how many miles you should walk in a day as an upper limit, but here are some of the factors you should consider when deciding what is the most you should walk in a day:
- Health status
- Injury risk
- Time available to walk relative to other commitments in your life (what are your priorities?)
- Frequency and intensity of your walking workouts (are you walking every day or just a few days a week? How taxing are your walks)
- Other physical activities that you do
- How well you seem to be recovering from long walks
- Rest days
- Diet/weight status (if you are not trying to lose weight, are you able to maintain your weight with long walks and feel your body enough)
To learn more about how much cardio you should do in a day, check out our guide that looks to answer that question here.