Walking a mile a day is an excellent fitness goal for beginners. It’s not too much of a commitment in terms of time and energy, yet it can still provide many wonderful physical and mental health benefits.
Most people can build up to walking a mile a day rather quickly, and once you establish a routine for your walks, you will find that walking a mile a day becomes easier.
You might even start looking forward to your daily mile walk.
We will cover:
- How Far Is a Mile?
- How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile a Day?
- How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking a Mile a Day?
- Benefits of Walking a Mile a Day
- Is Walking a Mile a Day Enough for Weight Loss?
- Is Walking a Mile a Day Enough for Health?
- Benefits of Walking a Mile a Day
- 5 Tips for Walking a Mile a Day
Let’s get started!
How Far Is a Mile?
In case you’re new to fitness or are accustomed to metric distances, let’s cover the basics so that you have some familiarity with the distance you have as your walking goal.
A mile is the equivalent of 5,280 feet or 1,609 meters.
If you decide to walk a mile a day on a standard 400-meter running track, you will need to walk just 9 meters more than four complete laps. Although the lengths of a block in a city can vary from city to city and block to block somewhat, a mile is roughly 20 city blocks.
How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile a Day?
Many beginner walkers want to know how long it takes to walk a mile per day.
There are quite a number of factors that can affect your walking speed, including your age, sex, fitness level, the terrain your walking on, how hard you are pushing yourself, whether or not you are carrying some kind of external load, and the environmental conditions you’re walking in.
However, even if you fall on the slower walking speed end of all of these factors, the difference in how long it will take to walk a mile a day isn’t particularly significant because a mile doesn’t take all that long to walk.
The primary factor that will affect the amount of time it takes you to walk one mile per day is how vigorously you’re trying to walk.
The difference in walking pace between a leisurely stroll and really pushing yourself by walking as briskly as possibly can be quite a lot.
Some walkers might walk as slowly as 2 or 2.5 miles per hour, which means it could take upwards of 30 minutes to walk a mile, whereas a brisk walking pace can be closer to 4.0 miles per hour.
In this case, you’ll walk a mile in 15 minutes, saving you half the time.
How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile Based On Age?
In general, walking speed decreases with age (after middle age), so one study tried to determine the average walking speed based on age and sex.
According to the data, the researchers reported the following walking speeds:
|Age||Average Walking Speed for Women (mph)||Average Walking Speed for Men (mph)|
Based on these walking speeds, we can calculate how long it takes to walk a mile based on age and sex, as shown below:
|Age||How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile for Women? (minutes : seconds)||How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile for Men? (minutes : seconds)|
How Long Does It Take to Walk a Mile at Different Paces?
There is nothing to say that just because you are older, you’ll walk slower, and the converse is also true.
Therefore, if you want to know how long it takes to walk a mile at different walking paces, refer to the table below:
|Walking Speed (mph)||Walking Pace (min/mile)|
How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking a Mile a Day?
The further and faster you walk and the more you weigh, the higher the number of calories you burn walking.
The Compendium of Physical Activities reports that walking at a leisurely pace of 2.8-3.2 mph on a level surface is equivalent to 3.5 METs. Walking at a pace of 3.5 mph on a level surface is 4.3 METs, while walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 mph on a level surface is rated at 5 METs, and finally, walking at a very brisk pace of 4.5 mph is 7 METs.
Walking 2.9–3.5 mph uphill at a 1 to 5% grade is roughly 5.3 METs, and maintaining that pace while climbing a 6 to 15% grade bumps the metabolic demand up to 8 METs.
Using these METs values, you can calculate the number of calories burned walking a mile at various speeds and weights using the following equation to determine energy expenditure:
Calories Burned Per Minute = METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200
Then, if you are walking a mile a day, this calculated value is multiplied by the number of minutes it takes you to walk that one mile.
Below, we’ve created a chart that uses these METs values for various walking speeds and conditions to calculate the approximate number of calories burned walking a mile a day for different body weights.
Note that some of the METs values given were for a range of walking speeds, so the average time to walk a mile in that range was used to calculate the number of calories burned per mile walking.
You can use this table to get a ballpark idea of approximately how many calories you will burn walking one mile per day.
|Weight (lbs)||Weight (kg)||Calories Burned Walking a Mile at 2.8-3.2 mph||Calories Burned Walking a Mile at 3.5 mph||Calories Burned Walking a Mile at 4.0 mph||Calories Burned Walking a Mile at 4.5 mph||Calories Burned Walking a Mile at 2.9–3.5 mph at |
|Calories Burned Walking a Mile at 2.9–3.5 mph at |
Is Walking a Mile a Day Enough for Weight Loss?
As you probably noticed from the data above, walking a mile a day doesn’t burn a ton of calories, but it’s also important to remember that the number of calories you burn during exercise is only part of the equation for weight loss.
Your diet plays a major role in the effectiveness of your weight loss strategy, as weight loss basically boils down to consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Many people find that by starting a habit of walking a mile a day helps shift their mindset in a way that makes it easier to stick with a healthy diet, reduces cravings, and helps control emotional eating.
When you are doing something good for your body and mind—like committing to consistently walking a mile a day—your brain can begin to crave other healthy behaviors and choices, such as eating less sugar, controlling portions, drinking water instead of soda or juice, and consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods.
In this way, walking a mile a day can be a catalyst for other health changes that allow you to lose weight more effectively.
Is Walking a Mile a Day Enough for Health?
Most of the research has said that you should aim to walk 10,000 steps per day, which is roughly equal to five miles. This is an overwhelming and unmotivating amount for many beginners.
The good news is that even if you only walk a mile a day and accrue about 2,000 steps per day, you are well on your way to reducing your risk of premature death and cardiovascular disease.
One study found that just walking 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.
Step count aside, most health and fitness experts would agree that walking a mile a day is a good starting place for improving your overall health and reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and certain cancers.
For example, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases.
This works out to walking 30 minutes a day five days a week or 25 minutes 7 days a week.
Walking a mile a day probably won’t get you quite up to that bar, unless you’re walking very leisurely, but in that case, you probably won’t be walking vigorously enough to be in the moderate-intensity activity anyway.
However, it’s a really great start, and gets you nearly there, especially if you try to walk 2 miles a day once or twice per week.
When it comes to health, the more you can move your body, the better.
Benefits of Walking a Mile a Day
Walking a mile a day is a doable exercise goal for most people, even if you’re very busy and haven’t been exercising at all for quite some time.
Sometimes, if you’ve been sedentary for a while, it can be unmotivating (and frankly, unwise) to set out on an ambitious training plan that has you suddenly jumping into working out vigorously for an hour a day.
Starting small with just walking one mile per day can help you establish a consistent workout habit and build up your fitness level so that you’ll be able to handle longer and more intense exercise in time.
Walking one mile per day may not sound like enough to really do much for your health, but every little bit of physical activity adds up.
Some of the top benefits of walking for exercise include:
- Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and the risk of premature all-cause mortality
- Decreasing systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- Strengthening the heart and lungs
- Decreasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Increasing your aerobic capacity (VO2 max)
- Strengthening your legs
- Decreasing joint pain
- Improving blood sugar regulation
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Boosting mood, confidence, and self-esteem
- Improving cognitive function and working memory
5 Tips for Walking a Mile a Day
If you haven’t been consistent with working out for quite some time, it can feel really daunting to set an exercise goal, even if it seems small on paper—like walking a mile per day.
Here are some tips for walking a mile a day:
#1: Commit to a 30 Day Mile a Day Challenge
If you haven’t been consistent with working out for quite some time, it can feel really daunting to set an exercise goal, even if it seems small on paper—like walking one mile per day.
In these cases, a 30-day mile a day challenge can be a fantastic way to boost your motivation and establish a doable exercise routine.
Studies show that fitness challenges increase motivation, and following a structured program is a great way to stay on track without having to plan your own workouts.
#2: Set a Schedule
Even though walking a mile a day doesn’t take all that long, it still takes time.
Consistency in your walking routine can improve adherence. Look at your schedule and pick a time of day that will generally work well for your walking workouts.
Whether the early morning works well for you, or if you like to walk during your lunch break or in the evening after dinner, stick with this time as much as possible so that it becomes second nature to take your daily one mile walk.
#3: Use a Pedometer
Most walkers love to track their stats so that they can see their progress and have tangible data to prove to themselves that they walked.
A simple pedometer or a smart fitness watch is a great way to track your activity level.
It’s motivating to rack up a higher daily step count every day, and the more steps you can take, the better your health will trend.
#4: Recruit a Friend
Any kind of exercise is more fun with a buddy!
Recruit your partner, friend, coworker, or dog to accompany you on your walks.
#5: Expect Bumps In the Road
Many beginners assume that once they get over the initial hurdle of actually getting out there and walking a mile a day every day, their workouts will feel easy.
However, progress isn’t completely linear and we all have days where our motivation, energy, or body just doesn’t feel as good while exercising.
Whether it’s a dreary and rainy day, you didn’t sleep well, or you feel achy and sore, on days where you don’t feel like walking, set a goal to just get outside or on the treadmill to walk for 10 minutes.
If you still feel crappy after 10 minutes, you can call it a day. However, there’s a good chance that you will feel rejuvenated and ready to do your full walk.
Establishing consistency is sometimes half the battle, so even if you have to occasionally adjust the target, doing a modified workout is better than throwing in the towel completely.
The one important caveat is that if you feel like you’re getting sick or you have concerns that you might be developing an injury, it’s far more important to take a rest day than to push yourself to walk. Listen to your body.
Walking a mile a day is a great start for your fitness journey. You’ll feel so proud of yourself if you stick with it, and you can do it!