Walking 10 miles (16.1 km) a day is a simple and effective way to add exercise to your lifestyle. While many exercise options are available, few beat walking when it comes to its simplicity, low risk of injury, and low entry barriers to beginning a program.

You can walk for exercise in many different 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 depending on your fitness level and goals.

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 you just want to get outdoors and change up your routine, walking 10 miles is an excellent method to add more movement to your life.

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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 different age and demographic groups.

Research suggests that walking can decrease cardiovascular risk factors, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and the incidence of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression (1).

Additional studies have found that setting distance-based goals instead of time-based goals may be more effective for realizing these benefits.

For example, working up to walking 10 miles per day could be better than working up to 2 hours of walking per day in terms of progressive goal setting (2).

Aside from the 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 social occasion.

Summary

Walking improves your physical and mental well-being.

The specific number of calories burned while walking 10 miles depends heavily on your body weight. Overall, you can expect to burn 700–1,000 calories over the course of walking 10 miles.

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. 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 over the course of 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 fat loss per week, assuming your calorie intake and expenditure were even before you started your walking program.

Your best bet for weight loss is to combine your walks with dietary modifications that were ideally guided by a registered dietician or other qualified professional.

It’s extremely easy to make up for 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.

Summary

Walking 10 miles burns 700–1,000 calories and can help support your 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.

The two main strategies for working up to 10 miles per day include:

  1. adding one mile per week
  2. breaking up your walks

Adding one mile per week

Depending on your current fitness level, walking for even a single mile may either be challenging or relatively easy.

To start building up to 10 miles, begin 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 completely 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, 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 only do 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, meaning breaking up longer walks into shorter walks, is as effective as longer continuous walks at improving health measures (3).

If you don’t have the time to walk 10 miles or whatever your set distance is at once, you can break it up into 2 or even 3 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.

Summary

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 one long walk.

At this point, you’re likely familiar with the benefits of walking, as well as the methods you can employ 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:

  1. Walking long distances takes substantial amounts of time.
  2. Walking does not provide sufficient intensity for higher-level athletic improvements.
  3. 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. To go any faster results in you essentially jogging or running, which does have 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, podcasts, socialize with a walking partner, or just enjoy the time outdoors.

However, for busy individuals, spending 3 hours per day walking may not be realistic.

The large amount of time required to cover 10 miles on foot is probably the biggest downside of walking.

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 either need to 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 long, 10-mile walks. However, consider adding core, balance, and weight training for a complete fitness program.

Summary

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 individuals provided you start with the right distance and slowly build up.

The following are just a few additional tips for ensuring 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 at the earlier stages of your walking program.

Locate scenic and pleasant routes

In terms of ensuring consistency, it’s a good strategy to find scenic or other pleasant outdoor locations to spruce up the excitement of your walks.

Learn your local areas, explore parks and other outdoor features, and establish some pleasant walking routes that’ll 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 sidewalk.

Summary

Wear the right shoes, walk on the right surfaces, and find pleasant, scenic routes for the best walking experience.

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 modifications.

Ensuring good footwear and pleasant walking routes will help reduce your injury rate 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 provides an excellent way to improve your health, well-being, and overall quality of life.