Want to know how many miles you can log on daily walks? The average miles walked per day really depend on the individual. An average means the person will have the ability to walk this distance every day without pushing too hard.
Everyone Is Different
The number of miles should be based on capability from the perspective of consistency to ensure the distance is possible as a daily average. For example, walking 18 miles in a single day while requiring a full week of recovery is not a basis for an average number. Age, stride length, endurance level, past injuries and numerous other factors also influence the average number of miles an individual can comfortably walk each day.
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Best Walkers in the World
The line between walking and running is very distinct, and that reality places a cap on the maximum distance a person can walk in a single day. A runner can increase the pace significantly, and ultra-marathon competitions showcase individuals completing the incredible 100-mile distance in 12 hours, or half a day. Very few walkers will reach that mark in less than 24 hours, and completing that distance as a daily average is simply out of the question.
A select few competitive speed walkers can cover a mile at incredible speeds. British Olympic speed walker Tom Bosworth set the world record mile at 5:31.08, which is incredible — but clearly does not represent the average person. Even this Olympic champion cannot walk that pace consistently across a number of miles. His own pace would gradually decrease, creating an average distance that is greater and faster than most individuals but still less than the pace set by the first mile.
Consistency Is Key
The most capable walkers in the world in terms of distance are the people who walk every day. This is not necessarily related to sports or fitness purposes either — many people do not own vehicles, and walking is a primary mode of transportation.
Covering 8 to 10 miles daily is not a problem for someone herding cattle on foot across the Andes mountains in South America each day. The process is a full-day task that happens naturally at the pace of the cattle. Again, this reflects a specialized grouping of the world population.
In terms of the greatest distance ever walked in a single day, several individuals have covered 100-mile range distances. Most individuals will average much less distance daily, however, and this record serves to show what is possible rather than normal.
The average miles walked per day by hikers attempting the Pacific Crest, Appalachian or Continental Divide trails provide a good benchmark for normal individuals curious about their capabilities if walking was the focus of every single day. These trails are strenuous, however, and you must consider the terrain as a limiting factor on certain sections.
A normal hiker completing any of these three big trails will cover an average of 8 to 10 miles per day, with some hikers pushing through 12 to 16 miles daily, according to TrailQuest. That includes low days and high days, which means hikers may cover 20 or more miles one day and only a few the next. It all depends on the individual hiker and the availability of critical elements like water and food.
Looking at the thru-hiker as a reference point is productive, because it demonstrates that many individuals have the ability to hike 10 or more miles as a daily average. They are not necessarily doing every mile in a single stretch, because the hiker has all day to work through this distance. Hiking a morning and afternoon session separately is not uncommon.
Walking Distance as Exercise
As a general form of exercise, walking is simple and accessible to everyone with the physical capabilities. The primary limiting component associated with the average miles walked per day is time. Covering a reasonable distance on a regular schedule requires at least a few hours daily, whereas a short, high-intensity workout can elevate the heart rate and give you results in less than one hour each day.
Walking is low intensity; it burns calories and is a great form of exercise, especially when incorporated into a broader workout routine. Walking for one to four hours lets you cover anywhere from 2 to 10 miles, depending on pace. Working through two separate sessions daily is also a good approach to covering more miles with a nice break to relieve the joints.
Dedicated walking just a few days each week lets you do longer time-frame workouts. Leave the short, high-intensity workouts for your busy days when time is limited. Walking an average of 10,000 steps per day is just shy of 5 miles, and it functions as a benchmark for the minimum number of steps a normal individual should cover daily.
Unintended Extra Miles
Ace Fitness observes that walking happens naturally throughout the day and the distance covered is typically more than the miles you track during exercise. Fitness tracker watches are a great tool to keep track of your exercise and any unintended distances covered. The average distance a person can walk in a day stands to increase when the activity occurs normally across the entire morning, afternoon and evening.
Walking in the workplace, taking a quick trip down the street for coffee and walking around to complete your daily tasks can rack up thousands of steps in a hurry. Sedentary jobs, however, can reduce the distance a person would naturally walk in a day, according to an article published in November 2012 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.
The difference between a carpenter moving around the job site and an administrator covering the phones and computers in an office is staggering in terms of steps taken.
Increasing the number of incidental steps taken is possible through some simple lifestyle changes. Moving regularly is not only good for your health, but it will also increase the average number of miles you can walk in a very natural way. These unintended miles are an excellent way to multitask by merging basic exercise needs with your work and life functions.
Naturally Increasing Distance
Increasing walking abilities and distance is simple, even without setting up a dedicated workout plan. Walking more throughout the day by shifting very specific aspects of your lifestyle is simple and effective. Using a fitness tracker to count steps and lets you measure your progress as the changes are implemented. Increasing the distance walked each day also increases the calories burned and fitness benefits.
Walking to work rather than driving is a simple first step if your place of business is located within a reasonable distance of your home. Pack a backpack with your lunch and anything needed for work or drive your equipment and supplies to the workplace and leave them in a safe place. That way, you can walk to work without hauling a bunch of gear.
Increase your steps and your productivity at work by walking on your lunch break. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, and run errands on foot. Simple changes of this nature can quickly drive your step count above the 10,000 mark, which should function as a daily minimum goal. Exceeding this minimum step count becomes increasingly easy as your body adjusts to moving and walking more throughout the day.
- TrailQuest: "Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiking"
- PubMed: Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism: "A Step-Defined Sedentary Lifestyle Index: <5000 Steps/Day"
- IAAF: "Tom Bosworth Athletic Profile"
- SRI Chinmoy Marathon Team: "Breaking a 12-Hour Walking Record"
- Ace Fitness: "Benefits of a Walk Around the Block"