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Home arrow Fitness arrow Walking arrow How Many Miles Should You Walk a Day? The Truth Behind Walking

How Many Miles Should You Walk a Day? The Truth Behind Walking

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: November 24, 2023
8 min read 2820 Views 0 Comments
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how many miles should you walk a day

Walking is an effective and simple exercise that you can add to your fitness routine. Most people underrate walking, but studies show that walking a couple of miles daily can be as effective as a workout or running.

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So how many miles should you walk a day to reap the benefits?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about this simple workout, its benefits, and how you can switch up your walking routine for the best results.

How Many Miles Should You Walk a Day?

It is best to target walking a distance of 5 to 6 miles a day to reap the maximum health benefits. Americans have an average walking speed of 3mph, translating to about 2 hours of walking to cover this distance.

Your height and stride length determine your steps per mile, thus affecting the number of steps you cover in 5–6 miles.

Perhaps it’s time to take walking seriously with all the associated benefits. However, if you don’t know where to start, the Walking.Diet program might be the jumpstart you need. 

Walking.Diet offers personalized guidance, expertise, and support necessary to meet your daily targets from your walking routine. The plan also includes warm-up and cool-down workouts; the workouts are friendly for overweight people who cannot handle other physical activities apart from walking.

The program also has a meal plan with numerous easy-to-prepare recipes from locally available ingredients and includes articles on food and nutrition, walking gear, and information on the health benefits of walking.

How Many Steps Does the Average Person Take a Day?

In the U.S., the average person takes 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, a walking distance of 1.5 to 2 miles a day. Doctors consider anything less than 5,000 steps a day to be a sedentary lifestyle, meaning that most Americans are not taking enough daily steps for their optimal health.

Covering longer distances by taking more steps per day correlates with improved health benefits. Scientific references show that people who walk 8,000 steps are at a 51% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to people who only walk 4,000 steps per day.

The trend improves, with people who take 12,000 steps per day at a 65% lower risk of dying from health-related issues than those walking 4,000 steps.

How Many Steps to Take for Weight Loss?

If your overall goal for walking is to lose weight, it would be best to target at least 10,000 steps or 4 to 5 miles per day. However, this number will vary depending on diet, age, gender, underlying health conditions, and your current fitness level.

Nutrition, stress levels, and sleep also play a vital role in losing weight. Don’t forget that you need to be on a calorie deficit while trying to shed a few pounds. 

Your workout intensity is also crucial. For instance, if a person takes 10,000 steps but spends 3,500 of those steps engaged in moderate to vigorous activity for about 10 minutes or longer, they are likely to experience better walking weight loss results in the long run.

Other experts claim that targeting 15,000 steps lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, but if 15,000 is too lofty a target, aim for 10,000 steps as it will still help you improve your mood and lose weight.

Recommended Steps a Day by Age

Though most adults need roughly the same level of physical activity for optimal health, children and adolescents have different needs.

CDC recommends that children aged 3 to 5 remain physically active throughout the day. It is hard to determine how many steps this equates to, but it essentially means that children need to engage in active play daily.

It would be best for children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years to get at least an hour of aerobic and strength training exercises a day. This is equal to 11,290 to 12,512 steps per day. Roughly walking 12,000 steps or 5 miles per day is a good health goal for people in that age group.

Workout guidelines recommend that healthy adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic or 75 minutes of intense physical activity per week. Older adults can aim for a similar step count as children and adolescents aged 6–17.

Are 5,000 Steps a Day Good?

A person who walks 5,000 steps per day, excluding sports and exercise, is considered to be slightly active. 

Physical activity guidelines indicate that walking less than 5,000 steps is an inactive lifestyle and is known to raise health risks. Your daily number of steps should be based on your goals.

Instead of focusing on your step count, it is best to take an individualized approach that targets incremental steps to reach your fitness goals.

Benefits of Walking

Walking is not the fastest way to move from one point to another, but its benefits to the mind and body are multiple. Here are several reasons for you to lace up and head out for a walk:

#1 Helps control weight

Physical activities such as walking are essential for weight management as they help you burn calories. Adding about 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine increases your calorie expenditure.

Research suggests that walking is associated with positive effects of fat burning and reducing waist circumference among obese females.

You can also incorporate post-core workouts into your routine and walk in shorter bursts as it increases the rate of weight loss compared to continuous walking. The same goes for walking uphill regularly.

It’s essential to focus and maintain your form and posture to help you stay injury-free and continue longer with your weight loss program. Of course, though walking can help you lose weight, it works best when combined with a healthy, low-calorie diet.

#2 Lowers cholesterol

Besides making dietary changes, exercises such as walking are among the most effective ways of bringing down your cholesterol levels. 

If cholesterol is at high levels, it sticks to the inside walls of blood vessels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

HDL is the good cholesterol that protects the body from cholesterol build-up, while LDL is dangerous. Walking actually increases HDL levels and can also change the nature of cholesterol in our bodies.

#3 Reduces anxiety and stress

Research shows that walking stimulates relaxation and boosts the release of endorphins, the brain chemicals that improve our mood. It also helps you relieve stress by giving you time to think and get away from everyday stressors.

Moving from a stressful environment enables you to take a break from internal worries and helps you meditate while in motion. Spending time outdoors is linked to relieving stress and improving memory and attention span. It allows you to stay calm, clear, and focused and increases your energy levels.

Ongoing stress puts us at a higher risk of other underlying physical issues such as cancer and heart disease. The good thing is that walking for stress relief can be done almost anywhere, thus reducing the effects of pressure on the body.

#4 Tones muscles

Walking increases your muscular strength and endurance. This contributes to the strengthening and toning of your body, as several muscles are involved in all steps.

Contrary to prevailing sentiment, walking does not just exercise the legs. It also helps tone your abdominal muscles. Your heart rate changes your breathing as you walk, and this effort naturally strengthens your abdominals.

When people walk, the abdominals constantly work to keep their bodies balanced. The swinging effect of arms also strengthens muscles in the upper body and in the back. It also helps lose back fat and is a natural remedy for back pain when practiced at a brisk pace.

You can incorporate bodyweight exercises and strength training into your routine to further tone your muscles.

#5 Boosts immunity

People who walk regularly are less likely to experience a cold, flu, sore throat, and other immune-related diseases. This is because physical exercises like walking increase the number of white blood cells circulating in the blood hence helping lower infection risk.

Brisk walking for 30 to 45 minutes a day is also linked to reduced respiratory tract infections. Though walking programs last over a long time period, a single exercise session activates different types of immune cells and contributes to a more robust immune system.

It also eases joint pain as it helps lubricate them and strengthens the muscles supporting the joints. Studies also suggest that it helps ease arthritis-related pain, and walking 5 to 6 miles daily helps prevent arthritis from forming in the first place.

How to Get More Steps During the Day?

Increasing your step count can be particularly challenging, especially if you have a busy lifestyle or have barriers that hinder you from walking regularly. However, there are some ways you can include in your daily routine to increase the steps you cover daily.

For starters, escalators and elevators are convenient for most people, but taking the stairs will gradually increase your step count. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator helps burn more calories and exercises different muscle groups.

If you drive to work, you can make it a point to park further away. This eliminates the need to drive around looking for the best spot and adds to your daily step count. If you use public transport, you can get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way.

When performing daily errands such as a trip to the local library or grocery store, you can decide to walk instead of commuting with your car. You can also walk during lunch breaks and get the necessary mental recharge instead of sitting at your desk.

Taking breaks from working or watching TV and walking around also help give you the required mental recharge and increase your daily step count.

A Word From Our RD

The average person logs 1.5 to 2 miles a day which is way below healthy recommendations. If you need to get enough physical activity from walking, target a goal of at least 10,000 steps per day, equal to 4 to 5 miles.

Depending on your time, availability, and lifestyle, you can incorporate different daily activities such as taking the stairs to increase your step count.

Reaching your step count takes discipline, dedication, and a long-term commitment to improving your overall health. You may start with just a few miles every other day and can gradually reach as many as 8 miles a day as your fitness level improves.

Before starting walking for your weight loss program, it is best to consult a healthcare professional and a fitness trainer for the best results.


The average adult should walk at least 4 miles a day to maintain fitness levels. However, it would be best to target 5 miles a day for improved stamina and endurance levels. This distance accounts for both passive and active walking during the day.

The mental and physical benefits from walking may not be immediate but improve the quality of life in the long run. Walking is easier than you think, and this simple activity can meet the exercise requirements of people of all ages and fitness levels.

It also greatly helps in weight loss gradually, managing stress levels, and improving overall health. Use a device to monitor and track the steps you cover daily. 

So now that you know what you need to start walking, it is time to kick your walking workout up a notch.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: November 24, 2023
8 min read 2820 Views 0 Comments

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