Building a walking habit is one of the best ways to get in your daily exercise. Walking offers many of the same benefits as running, just at a lower impact.
The benefits of walking 4 miles a day can’t be understated. Whether you’re looking for a way to boost your health, increase your fitness level, or just get more fresh air and vitamin D, here’s why and how to get started.
How Far Is 4 Miles?
4 miles equals 6.4 kilometers, 16 laps of a standard running track.
Depending on your stride length, usually determined by your height, you could walk between 8,000 and 10,000 steps during a 4-mile walk.
How Long Does It Take To Walk 4 Miles a Day?
There’s no specific answer to this question. It depends on your pace, body weight, fitness level, and even the type of terrain you’re walking on.
However, in most cases, you can expect to walk 4 miles in around an hour if you’re going at a brisk pace of 4 miles per hour. Slower than that, your time can stretch to an hour and a half.
Of course, if you slow down or speed up as you’re walking, your time may be more than an hour or less than an hour. Your time will also stretch if you stop to rest along the way.
Can You Lose Weight Walking 4 Miles a Day?
If you’re walking consistently and pairing it with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, you definitely can lose weight by walking 4 miles a day.
The key is to ensure you burn more calories than you consume by 20 to 25 percent. That way, your body has no choice but to use its fat stores for fuel.
The key to losing weight is to ensure that the number of calories you’re burning during your walk is equal to or more than your calorie deficit.
Remember, the calories you burn during your walk are only part of what your body burns daily. You burn calories by breathing, moving, digesting food, and other bodily processes.
It’s important to remember that it can take between 8 and 16 weeks to see results! You’ll need to stay consistent for 3 to 4 months without cheating and notice the weight dropping.
It’s also worthwhile knowing that you can accelerate weight loss by adding other exercises to your daily routine, especially resistance or strength training.
How Many Calories Can You Burn Walking 4 Miles a Day?
Calorie burn differs from day to day and from person to person based on several different factors.
Your current weight, your walking intensity, how long you walk for, the terrain, how well you slept the night before… These things and more subtle factors all play a role in how many calories you burn walking 4 miles a day.
Harvard Health performed a study that calculated an estimated number of calories for a variety of activities based on three different people of different weights. Here’s what they found for walking:
Walking at 4 mph (1 hour of exercise in total):
- 125-lb person: 270 calories
- 155-lb person: 350 calories
- 185-lb person: 378 calories
If you have a smartwatch, you can track your calories on that. It’s hard to tell exactly how accurate they are, but as long as you’re staying consistent and eating less, then you should see weight loss.
Health Benefits of Walking 4 Miles per Day
There are plenty of excellent benefits of walking 4 miles a day. Once you start, you can expect to experience:
- Lowered blood pressure and better cardiovascular health: Your heart and lungs will gain strength the more you walk, improving your lung capacity and reducing your chance of developing heart disease.
- A strengthened immune system: As you become stronger, the body becomes more able to fight off disease, from the common cold to worse conditions.
- Stronger bones and more flexible joints: Walking is a “weight-bearing exercise,” which helps to strengthen bones. It also increases the level of oxygen-rich blood and synovial fluid in the joints.
- Better mental health and mood: Endorphins are released during exercise, and these happy hormones positively affect your brain. You may experience reduced anxiety, improved depression, and better moods daily.
- Better sleep quality: The better your sleep, the better your overall health. And exercising during the day does wonders for your sleep quality.
- Less fat, more muscle: As long as your calories are on point, you can expect to lose weight. You can also expect to gain some muscle when you’re using those muscles regularly, especially if you’re walking uphill.
Tips for Getting Started Walking Every Day
Ready to build a 4-mile-a-day habit? Here are our top tips to get started and maintain motivation as you go.
Setting a Realistic Goal
4 miles a day is a good goal, but it may be a little too much if you’re a complete beginner. Your first goal should be to walk one mile without stopping to catch your breath.
If 4 miles is starting to feel too easy for you—and you have some more time in your day—you can increase it to 6 miles or even 8 miles a day. The distance you settle on should feel challenging but not so hard that you exhaust yourself.
Set Your Schedule
It’s also important that you choose a distance goal that fits into your daily schedule. It’s great to want to walk 8 miles a day, but if you’re pressed for time, you may not be able to squeeze 2 hours out of your day for a walk.
A 4-mile walk should set you back about an hour. You can get up early and get an hour’s walk in before getting ready for work or head out the door when you get home to shake off the work tension.
Figure out what works best for you and try to stick to it. This will get your mind and body used to doing the same thing at the same time—the best way to build a habit!
Find a Safe and Enjoyable Walking Route
We recommend choosing a route 2 miles out and 2 miles back, so you can do a round-trip that ends back at your starting point. You can follow routes you’re familiar with or find new ones if you have a running app with built-in routes.
Make sure the routes you choose are safe, in public where other people are present, and don’t have any dangerous spots. If you live in an unsafe area, you may want to consider investing in a treadmill.
Get the Right Gear
Make sure you wear the right shoes for a comfortable and safe walk. If you’re an overpronator—your feet roll inwards as you take a step—then you need to be walking with a stability shoe, not just any old shoe.
This is important because wearing shoes that don’t support your feet properly can make you more prone to injury. And injury means time off from walking!
Consider your clothing as well. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs sweat, leaving you feeling weighed down and clammy. Choose lightweight, light clothing. Most activewear these days includes some kind of moisture-wicking technology.
Dehydration can make your walk miserable! You might not feel dehydrated, but you may struggle to walk at the same pace, maintain a good energy level, and you might find yourself tiring out much faster.
The key to staying hydrated is to drink before you feel thirsty. Carry a water bottle with you and sip on it every few minutes. Don’t drink so fast that water sloshes around in your stomach, but make sure you’re constantly sipping.
Start Slow and Increase Intensity Gradually
There’s no need to go all out from your first walk. Go at a pace that feels comfortable to you but isn’t too easy. If you go too easy, your 4-mile run will stretch much longer than an hour, and you most likely won’t burn as many calories.
Go at a pace that’s not exhausting but that’s not so easy that you can carry out a full conversation while you’re walking.
Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Water
If you’re walking to lose weight, it’s just as important what you do outside of your actual run. Your diet is extremely important—not just calorie-wise, but also the quality of your food.
Take care to eat healthy, whole foods. For weight loss, you should be eating around 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Also, don’t be afraid of carbs, as long as you’re eating the good ones—vegetables, whole grain pasta, and rice are good options.
Avoid processed carbs that are laden with sugar. Also, ensure you’re not drinking calories in calorie-laden coffee beverages or sodas.
How to Stay Motivated
At some point, you’re bound to lose motivation. Here are some ideas to help you stay on top of it and find that inspiration when needed.
Track Your Progress
By tracking your progress, you can see how you’re improving weekly, month by month. It’s up to you how you track it—a running app is the easiest choice, but for those who like a more visceral option, you can invest in a running journal.
Take note of things like your distance, time, pace—if you have a way of tracking it—the weather conditions, any small pains or discomfort you feel, and anything else that could be relevant down the line.
Set Rewards for Yourself
Creating your own rewards system can be extremely motivating. It’ll take some willpower, but it can be a valuable way to keep yourself going with an appealing goal.
Try not to reward yourself with food because this can be an easy way to overeat and ruin your calorie deficit accidentally. Instead, try to structure your rewards like this:
- “If I do my daily walk, I get to watch an episode of my TV show later. If I miss it, I can’t watch.”
- “If I improve my 4-mile time by 5 minutes in the next month, I’ll buy myself that pair of shoes/piece of fitness equipment/tech gadget I’ve been wanting.”
Create a Support System
If accountability and support are important to you, then it’s worthwhile to surround yourself with supportive people. It could just be a few family members who check in on you and how you’re progressing toward your goals.
Or you could join an online group, share your stats, and meet like-minded people in the same fitness bracket as you. This is great because you can be supported and do some supporting as well!
If you struggle to motivate yourself to get out there and walk daily, joining a walking club could be beneficial. It comes with a built-in support system, and you may be able to find someone to walk with if walking alone doesn’t appeal to you.