We have all heard the phrase “a five-minute walk is a better workout than an hour at the gym”. Though, we have yet to this one to the test and put it through its paces – so to speak!
It all comes down to the recommended walking distance per day.
The recommended walking distance per day is 5 miles. This is also equal to 10,000 steps. Walking 5 miles per day will burn an additional 400 calories per day. This along with a body’s natural calorie burn rate will help people lose weight with a calorie-controlled eating plan.
Walking distance can be a tricky concept for the average person.
We think about distance it in terms of miles or time, but distance is not always that simple.
How long are your legs?
Have you ever felt like your walk is more of a shambling motion rather than a steady pace?
The average person gets about 3.7 miles of daily walking in North America, 5.1 miles in Europe, and 12.9 miles for the rest of the world, on average.
But is that enough?
The recommended walking distance per day for your age group
Here is table of the average recommended walking difference per day for each age group:
|Age Group||Recommended Walking Distance||Average Steps|
There are many factors to take into consideration.
Physical fitness is of course one of them.
Someone with high physical fitness in their 50s may not need to walk as much distance as someone overweight in their 30s.
Walking is a form of exercise. We all know that exercise is good for us.
It helps us to build muscle, increase metabolism, reduce inflammation, boost our mood, and achieve a range of health benefits.
Is walking 10,000 Steps a Day Enough to Lose Weight
Any form of exercise will contribute towards weight loss, but this must be combined with calorie intake.
Walking is such a great form of exercise.
Some people can burn more calories while walking than they do running.
Obviously if you run for the same length of time as you walk, you will burn more calories running – but people can often walk a lot further when they run.
It may take longer but physical stamina may see you burn more calories on a day out walking in nature than a 30-minute run.
The body naturally burns calories throughout the day. Even when you sleep.
We are recommended to eat no more than 2,500 calories per day for men, and 2,000 calories per day for women.
This calorie intake, as well as the body’s natural way of burning through the calories we consume, helps keep us at a steady weight.
To lose weight you would need to reduce calorie intake as well as boosting the number of calories you body burns through exercise.
A 10,000-step walk, which is roughly 5 miles, will burn an average of 400 calories. This should take around 1hr and 40minutes to complete on a flat walking route.
The Math of 10,000 Steps and Weight Loss
The math behind the 10,000-step rule is easy to follow.
Once you can your head around it, the results can be dramatic relatively fast.
10,000-steps will burn an average of 400 calories
Walking 10,000-steps every day for a week will burn an additional 2,800 calories every week. This is equal to over a full day of recommended calorie consumption.
This means you have reduced your net calorie level by 16% a week. Over just a 4 to 8-week period, it can have a noticeable impact.
If, at the same time, you reduce your calorie intake by 20% – which means 2,000 calories for a man and 1,600 for a woman – and walk 10,000 steps a day, you will reduce your net calorie level by up to 36% every week!
A third less calories than usual by simply reducing calorie intake by 20% and walking 10,000-steps a day.
I tried it: A real life case study on walking 10,000-steps and reducing calories
I recently conducted a real-life experiment over a period of 4 weeks, to see what the effect would be on my weight, muscles, and mindset.
I do not recommend anyone actually try this, as it would be considered extreme, but I wanted to get the best possible results and test walking, with calorie reduction, and see the results.
Weight Loss Result
Over just a 30-day period I reduced my calorie intake by an average of 39% every day (2,500 calories down to 1,546 a day. This average includes a regular cheat day once a week.
I walked 10,000-steps, or 5 miles, 5 out of 7 days in the week.
After 30 days I dropped my overall weight by 13 pounds – I was just 1 pound short of 14 pounds, which was my target.
I was so close to my target, but I considered this a reward for all the effort I put in.
It was tough. Really tough, especially in the first 7 days, but a combination of walking along with calorie reduction certainly lost the pounds relatively fast.
I perhaps though I would struggle a little more than I did.
Being busy at work it was difficult to drag myself out every day to complete my walking challenge, especially when rain was set in for the day.
I told myself it was for a greater good, so grabbed my coat, hat and headed out the door.
After 4 weeks my muscles were in pretty good shape. They were not sore, did not ache. It was more the mental challenge of keeping up the routine than the impact the walk was having on my legs and feet.
Mindset changes walking 10,000-steps a day
The lessons I learned from walking every day were more beneficial than the walking alone.
I struggled with procrastination. Taking the easy route and not really challenging myself, especially as I got older.
I put together a simple spreadsheet (can be done on either Microsoft Excel or the free Google Docs) and before the month started, I had a very basic form showing every day of the month, and my target – as well as the actual result.
Every day after the walk I updated the spreadsheet with my actual steps. This simple act kept me going.
This 30-day 10,000 step walking challenge helped me drive focus into other projects I wanted to work on. It reduced my procrastination.
Whether I just needed an excuse to push myself, or just like filling in spreadsheets, I do not really care.
But the affect of those 30-days, and the benefits they have given, are keeping me motivated even now.
Why do we feel good when we walk?
There is more to the human experience than just what we see, hear, and feel.
It is a complex dance between our bodies and our brains that communicates the messages of pleasure to our nervous system.
A fascinating journey that scientists are only just beginning to understand.
It turns out that the presence of dopamine in our brain helps to explain why we feel so good when we walk.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which regulates mood and motivation — it is also the one that helps us feel good.
Being outdoors has this amazing affect on the body. Whether it is fresh air, beautiful scenery or being at one with nature, all these things have a renowned and long-established positive reaction to the mind and body.
Also, exercise makes us feel good.
I would really recommend you create a walking plan. Something to chart your progress and keep you motivated when you do not feel like it.
Listen to your body though.
Can you lose weight just by walking?
You can lose weight just by walking. Walking 10,000-steps can burn 400 calories a day, or 2,800 calories per week. This 15% reduction in net calories can be further increased by reducing your calorie intake, which will help you lose weight faster.
Walking is one of the easiest exercises to do. People can literally walk for miles.
Many people find it easier to walk 10,000-steps to burn 400 calories than running for 35 minutes (at an average of 114 calories burned per 10 minutes of running).
It may take 3x as long, but much more achievable.
Therefore, many people can burn more calories by walking than running.
This is simply down to stamina, muscle fatigue and muscle injury when running.
Recommended walking distance per day for seniors – how the body changes
Walking is an important form of exercise for seniors, and it is easy to see why. It is a great way to keep moving and to lose weight.
It is recommended for seniors to walk between 2,000 to 9,000 steps a day.
Running starts becoming less of an option, and any injuries will take longer to recover from.
As we age, it is important to remember that our bodies don’t work the same way they used to.
Our bones are weak, our joints become less flexible, and we may have trouble walking as fast as we once did.
It is important to keep exercise going for as much and for as long as possible, but as we age it is really important to listen to every sign our body is trying to send us.
As we age the number of steps we do every day will naturally start decreasing. This is in line with US government health recommendations too.
This is really a wide range and will depend on your age and health.
Keeping muscles strong can help with everyday activities too and help prevent common injuries.
How to prevent walking injuries, sprains, and muscle aches
Stretching is one of the best ways to help avoid walking injuries and sprains.
Walking will help stretch your muscles, but specific stretching exercises for walking will really help keep you limber and raring to go every day.
Here is a video showing the best ways to stretch your leg, ankle, and feet muscles for walking:
It may feel like a wasted 15 minutes or so, but it could be the difference between a happy walk, and a muscle injury that could take weeks to heal.