Walking is a simple and effective way to add exercise to your lifestyle. While many exercise options are available, few beat walking in terms of simplicity, low risk of injury, and low entry barriers to beginning a program.
You can walk for exercise in many settings, both urban and rural. In general, walking costs little compared with a gym membership or home gym equipment. Finally, you can adjust the intensity and duration of your walk to fit your fitness level and goals.
While studies show that walking for just 30 minutes a day is enough to reap health benefits, you might be looking for a bigger challenge (1).
Walking 10 miles (16.1 km) a day is certainly a lofty goal (mostly because of the time involved), but if you can do it, your heart, brain, and whole body will thank you.
When it comes to mental and physical health, the need for regular exercise can’t be overstated. If working out in a gym doesn’t appeal to you, or if you just want to get outdoors and change up your routine, walking 10 miles is an excellent way to add more movement to your life.
Despite its simplicity, walking can have a profound effect on your physical and mental health. Research on walking shows a range of benefits across multiple demographic groups.
And while you’ll certainly realize these benefits if you walk 10 miles a day, it’s important to remember that any amount of walking is great for your health.
Research suggests that walking can decrease cardiovascular risk factors, body mass index, waist circumference, and the incidence of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression (
Additional studies have found that setting distance-based goals instead of time-based goals may be more effective for realizing these benefits.
For example, in terms of progressive goal setting, working up to walking 10 miles per day could be better than working up to 2 hours of walking per day (
Aside from its direct, measurable physiological and psychological benefits, walking gives you the opportunity to explore your local area while exercising. Additionally, you can bring a friend to make it both a workout and a social occasion.
Walking improves your physical and mental well-being.
Walking 10 miles a day is a big goal and may be unrealistic for some people. But if you’re training to walk a long race or taking a long hike over the weekend, here’s what you can expect for calorie burn over those miles.
The specific number of calories burned while walking 10 miles depends heavily on your body weight. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 155-pound (70.3-kg) person can expect to burn roughly 351 calories per hour when walking at a 15-minute mile pace (4).
Likewise, a person weighing 185 pounds (83.9 kg) would burn about 419 calories walking at a 15-minute mile pace for 1 hour (4).
At that pace, it would take 2.5 hours to walk 10 miles, for a total of about 878 calories for the 155-pound person and 1,048 calories for the 185-pound person.
Overall, you can expect to burn 700–1,200 calories when walking 10 miles, depending on several factors.
Your pace will matter less in regards to the total number of calories burned. However, walking faster will help you hit the 10-mile mark much sooner. So, a faster pace will equate to more calories burned per hour but less total walking time.
Weight loss effects from walking 10 miles
Walking 10 miles per day is an effective way to support weight loss.
Traditionally, it was thought that to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg), you must burn roughly 3,500 calories more than your intake over a given time period. For example, to lose 1 pound per week, you need to eat 3,500 fewer calories than you burn during that week.
With that in mind, adding 4 days of walking 10 miles per day with no additional food intake would put you at around 1 pound of weight loss per week, assuming your calorie intake and expenditure were equal before you started your walking program.
More recent research shows that this 3,500-calorie rule may be a bit of an oversimplification, however. The rate of metabolic processes changes over the course of a weight loss journey, as our bodies adapt hormonally and neurologically (
Therefore, if walking 10 miles becomes a habit for you, you may notice that your weight loss is not consistent or continuous.
Your best bet for weight loss is to combine your walks with dietary changes, ideally with the guidance of a registered dietitian or other qualified professional.
It’s extremely easy to replace the calories burned on a 10-mile walk with a few extra snacks or bigger portions at mealtime, so eating healthy and reasonable portions is still a requirement for ensuring successful weight loss from walking.
Walking 10 miles burns 700–1,200 calories and can help support weight loss goals.
While walking might sound simple enough, building up to 10 miles takes time, especially if you plan to walk 10 miles every day. This is a big goal and a big time commitment, and it will take some strategy to be successful.
The two main strategies for working up to 10 miles per day are:
- adding 1 mile per week
- breaking up your walks
Adding 1 mile per week
Depending on your current fitness level, walking even a single mile may be either challenging or relatively easy.
To build up to 10 miles, start by walking a single mile. If you can comfortably walk a mile in 15–20 minutes, add another mile to that walk.
Once you find a distance that’s slightly challenging but not overwhelming, stick with that distance for a week. Each week, you’ll add another mile to your daily walking program.
For example, if you find that 3 miles is challenging at the beginning, walk 3 miles per day for a week, and then bump it up to 4 miles per day the following week.
Additionally, taking 1 or 2 nonconsecutive days off from walking per week is a good plan to avoid any overtraining or overuse injuries.
Even if you can do only a single mile, following this program will have you walking the full 10 miles within 10 weeks. This is quite reasonable — you must continue exercising frequently over the long term to reap lasting health benefits.
Feel free to play around with the increments. If adding a mile each week feels like too much, add half-mile increments. On the other hand, if you’re feeling strong, adding 1.5 miles or more may be an appropriate challenge.
Breaking up your walks
If you’re on a tight schedule or have other complicating issues, breaking up your walks is a good strategy.
In fact, research suggests that intermittent walking — breaking up longer walks into shorter walks — is as effective as longer continuous walks at improving health measures (
If you don’t have the time to walk 10 miles or another set distance at once, you can break it up into two or even three walks throughout the day.
One of the greatest strengths of walking for exercise is how easy it is to customize your regimen. Adapt your walking schedule as needed to fit the distance into your day.
Working up mile by mile until you reach 10 miles per day will reduce your risk of overuse injuries. Breaking up your walks into multiple segments may suit your lifestyle better than taking one long walk at a time.
At this point, you’re likely familiar with the benefits of walking and the methods you can use to incorporate walking into your routine.
However, there are some downsides to walking 10 miles per day. You should be aware of them before committing to the program.
The downsides can be summarized as follows:
- Walking long distances takes substantial amounts of time.
- Walking does not provide sufficient intensity for higher level athletic improvements.
- Walking does not stimulate muscle and bone growth as effectively as other exercise options.
Walking takes time
Walking is slower than running.
A typical walking pace is 15–20 minutes per mile. Going any faster will result in you essentially jogging or running, which has other benefits and downsides compared with walking.
At the typical walking rate, it’ll take you 2–3 hours to get to 10 miles.
If you have the time for this, great. You can listen to music or podcasts, socialize with a walking partner, or just enjoy the time outdoors.
However, for busy people, spending 3 hours per day walking may not be realistic. If that’s the case for you, that’s OK! There are other ways to get in a great walking workout in less time.
The large amount of time required to cover 10 miles on foot is probably the biggest downside of walking this distance.
Walking lacks intensity
The science is clear that walking can drastically improve your health compared with sedentary activity.
Nevertheless, if your goal is greater improvements in aerobic fitness or strength, walking does not provide adequate intensity to push you toward these adaptations.
While you may initially notice improvements in your aerobic fitness, sooner or later you’ll need to either increase your speed until you’re running or add some form of weight or other resistance to increase the intensity.
Walking does not stimulate coordination, muscle, and bone growth effectively
Once again, compared with no activity, walking is an excellent physical intervention.
However, for both younger and older adults, comprehensive fitness training requires some amount of resistance training to improve bone density and muscle mass.
Muscle and bone loss is of particular concern for older adults. While walking is always better than not exercising at all, it simply does not provide the stimulus required to build muscle or continually improve bone density.
Additionally, incorporating balance and coordination training into a fitness plan will reduce the risk of falling, which is an important consideration for older adults.
With this in mind, by all means, work up to 10-mile walks if they interest you. However, consider adding core, balance, and weight training for a complete fitness program.
Walking 10 miles takes a substantial amount of time and does not provide the full range of stimuli needed for comprehensive fitness adaptations.
Building up to 10 miles per day is doable for most people, as long as you start with the right distance and slowly build up.
The following are just a few additional tips to help you stay consistent and avoid injuries during your walking program.
Wear comfortable and supportive walking shoes
The repetitive nature of walking can be detrimental to the health of your feet, ankles, knees, and hips if you do not have the right level of support.
Consider getting a pair of comfortable walking shoes with an insert that gives you arch support based on your needs.
Find soft walking surfaces
Walking on pavement, concrete, or other hard surfaces is much higher impact than walking on trails, grass, or rubberized track surfaces.
Ideally, find a surface that’s a little more forgiving than sidewalk pavement, particularly in the early stages of your walking program.
Locate scenic and pleasant routes
To ensure consistency in your walking routine, it’s a good idea to find scenic or otherwise pleasant outdoor locations to make your walks more enjoyable.
Learn your local area, explore parks and other outdoor locations, and establish some pleasant walking routes that will keep you engaged and excited to walk.
Additionally, if you can walk outside in nature or near trees, the air quality and overall experience might be better for you than grinding out 10 miles on urban sidewalks.
For the best walking experience, it’s helpful to wear supportive shoes, walk on softer surfaces, and find pleasant, scenic routes.
Walking is an effective and accessible way to add exercise to your life. Walking has numerous scientifically proven health benefits, and you can adjust the intensity and distance based on your current fitness level.
Building up to a 10-mile walk every day will lead to substantial improvements in your cardiovascular health and psychological well-being.
Additionally, walking can support a weight loss program, particularly when combined with dietary changes. But remember, it’s important to take a couple of days off per week to rest and to try complementary exercises that develop strength and balance.
Wearing proper footwear and finding pleasant walking routes will help reduce your risk of injury and improve the experience and consistency of your walking routine.
Whether you’re currently sedentary or just looking to add variety to your exercise program, 10 miles per day of walking can be an excellent way to improve your health, well-being, and overall quality of life.