Have you decided to develop a walking habit and get fit?
Congratulations! Walking is an excellent way to exercise for a variety of reasons. But more than anything, it’s one of the easiest exercise habits to start and maintain, and it requires no fancy equipment.
While you need to start at a level that’s right for you and your abilities, the good news is that almost anyone can walk 5 miles a day if you have the time. The benefits of walking 5 miles daily are many, so it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Here’s all you need to know about the distance, why it’s an amazing idea, and how to start building a 5-mile-a-day habit.
How Far Is 5 Miles?
5 miles equals just over 8 kilometers.
For some context, that’s 20 laps around a standard track! One lap equals 400 meters, so 4 laps will give you a mile.
How Many Steps Is 5 Miles?
You can expect to walk 10,000 steps or more in a 5-mile walk, depending on your stride length! If you aim for 10k-step days, doing a 5-mile walk each day is the best way to get it in.
How Long Does It Take To Walk 5 Miles a Day?
It can take anywhere from 1 to 2 ½ hours to walk 5 miles, depending on your pace and how often you stop for a break. Keep that in mind when working a 5-miler into your daily routine!
How Many Calories Are Burned Walking 5 Miles?
According to Havard Health, you can burn 107 calories in 30 minutes of walking at a pace of 3.5 miles per hour if you weigh around 125 pounds; 133 if you weigh around 155 pounds; and about 160 calories if you weigh 185 pounds or so.
Now, if you walk at a pace of 3.5 miles per hour, you’ll most likely finish a 5-mile walk in about an hour and a half. So, a 125-pound person can burn about 321 calories during a 5-mile walk, a 155-pound person can burn about 399 calories, and a 185-pound person can burn about 480 calories.
Using that base, you can estimate your calorie burn based on your weight and pace. Keep in mind that it’s just an estimate—you may want to invest in a smartwatch with calorie tracking for more accurate numbers.
What Are the Benefits of Walking 5 Miles a Day?
Adding a 5-mile walk to your daily routine has a ton of benefits, both physical and mental. Here’s what you can expect when you start doing it!
The simple act of walking every day can have profound effects on your physical health. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Walking is proven to improve your cardiovascular health. CVD—cardiovascular disease—is one of the leading causes of death in the US, and walking daily can significantly lower your chances of suffering from it.
Studies show that the more you walk, the more your chance of CVD decreases. You’ll be less at risk of suffering from a stroke, heart attack, blood clot, and other cardiovascular diseases or events. This means a longer life!
Lower Blood Pressure Levels
As well as lowering the risk of CVD and diabetes, you’ll also find that your blood pressure levels drop the more you walk. Research shows higher blood pressure in adults with a sedentary lifestyle, and evidence suggests that people who walk daily have lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Some scientists claim that a short, brisk walk daily can be as effective as medication for managing blood pressure! If you’re hypertensive, it’s worth a try—but don’t just stop taking your meds until you’ve been walking for a while and got the go-ahead from your doc!
Weight Loss and Maintenance
You can see great weight loss effects or avoid gaining your lost weight back by walking 5 miles a day. If you’re burning 300 to 500 calories every day, all you need to do is get your eating on track, and your weight goals will be easy to meet.
As long as you eat fewer calories than you’re burning every day, you’ll continue losing weight. Eat the same rough amount as you’re burning, and you’ll maintain your current weight.
Remember that your total calorie burn includes exercise, daily movement, bodily processes, and even fidgeting during the day! Use this calorie calculator for some excellent insight into how much you should be eating.
Stronger Leg Muscles
Your leg muscles will definitely develop the more you walk. If you walk on an incline, even more so! As long as you keep your form, you can expect stronger legs.
Remember, this won’t happen overnight! You may experience sore legs the first few days, but the longer you keep up the habit, the stronger you’ll find your legs.
Reduced Risk of Joint Pain
This might seem counterintuitive. But the more you walk, the more your joints might start to feel better. Weight-bearing exercises like walking help to circulate oxygen-rich blood and synovial fluid within joints, keeping them lubricated and performing at their best.
Walking is much more low-impact than running, so this exercise is effective for those with joint troubles.
Mental Health Benefits
Physical benefits aren’t all you’ll get. When you walk daily, you’ll also reap mental health rewards.
Increased Cognitive Performance
Research also shows that walking has a positive effect on concentration, problem-solving, and attention span. This is true for walkers across the spectrum of ages, and can even reduce the chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s!
Nothing lowers stress levels like exercise. Endorphins get released and the heart pumps the blood faster throughout the body, so you experience the great effects of endorphins pretty quickly.
There’s particular evidence to suggest that walking in nature helps lower stress levels significantly. So if you’re walking outdoors, you’ll get extra benefits!
All those endorphins do a good job of improving your mood. Once you start seeing results from your walking, you’ll also start to feel better about yourself, leading to even more improved moods!
How to Get Started with a Walking Program
Ready to start building a 5-mile-a-day habit? Here’s how to get started so you can see results as soon as possible!
Establishing Your Goals
Obviously, your main goal is going to be to walk 5 miles every day. But it’s also important to set separate goals within that framework—for example, are you starting a walking practice so you can lose weight? Then set weight loss goals as well.
Your goals must be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Vague goals like “lose weight” won’t do—you want to use numbers whenever possible. “Lose 10 pounds by July” is not only specific but also measurable and time-based!
Choosing the Right Shoes
Wearing the wrong shoes can ruin your walking from the start. If you’ve got a neutral foot, chances are you can put any shoe on your foot and walk comfortably.
But if your foot rolls inwards more than average on the step—you’ll need a stability shoe if you’re an overpronator.
Don’t discount this factor. Your walking shoes can make or break your performance, but wearing the wrong shoes can also make you more prone to injury.
Create a Walking Program
You can download a walking program or create your own based on your schedule and your own preferences.
Set a Schedule
We recommend starting off with 2 walks per week and seeing how your body handles it. You can slowly increase as you become more used to it. Remember that you’ll likely feel muscle pain and fatigue in the first week or two!
You can jump right into walking 5 miles daily, but it can take its toll on your body if you aren’t used to it. It’s best to ease yourself into it and increase gradually as your body becomes used to the exercise.
Be patient—it can take up to 3 or 4 months to reach the point where you’re walking 5 miles daily!
Choosing the Right Route
Try to avoid routes with hazards that could make it difficult. Don’t avoid the hills, though—inclines can up the intensity of your walk and help you burn more calories and build more muscle!
Choose a route that you’re fairly familiar with and are comfortable with. You can map out a 5-mile route on an app, or just wing it until you find a route that’s the right distance… but finding a 5-mile route beforehand is a good idea so you don’t have any uncertainty.
Varying Your Routine
If you want to avoid boredom, we highly recommend throwing a bit of variation in there. The treadmill is the best way to do it! Split your walks between outdoor and indoor walks.
You can also do an incline walk at some point, which is more intense but an excellent variation on your regular walk. Walking on the treadmill also allows you to catch up on your favorite TV shows, and it also means you never miss a day because of poor weather!
Getting an accountability partner is an excellent way to stay motivated. That way, if you miss a walk, it’s not just yourself you’re letting down!
You could also get a walking partner. Walking with someone else is a great way to stay inspired. Other ways to stay motivated include rewarding yourself when you reach milestones—like one week of walking, one month without missing a day, and so on.
Tips for Sticking to Your Program
If you know your walking schedule upfront, it’s easier to get up and go every day without stopping and thinking about it. We advise sticking a copy of your walking schedule up so you can see it daily.
Check it every evening to ensure you’re prepared for your next walk. Good preparation makes a big difference to the quality of your everyday walk! You can also check the following day’s weather, so you know what to wear, or if you want to do a treadmill walk instead of an outdoor walk.
Tracking Your Progress
You can use a walking app or a journal to record your progress. This is a step we highly recommend taking. Tracking your progress is an easy way to compare over time and see your goals come to life!
Take note of things like time walked, distance, pace if you can track it, calories burned, and how you felt on your walk. If you want to get very detailed, you can even track what you ate before and after your walk, what shoes you wore, and if anything unusual happened on the walk.
Taking Time to Rest
Rest is as important as exercise. If you plan on walking 5 miles daily, you won’t have much time to rest in between each walk. But your actions between walks can make all the difference!
When you first begin, you may need to take a day to rest in between each walk. You may want to consider things like foam rolling, massage, and compression gear. Make sure you also get good sleep, eat healthily, and stay hydrated!
When you’re walking 5 miles a day with no breaks in between, rest can be harder. However, it’s important to listen to your body and take a day off when you need it.
Celebrating Your Successes
Walking 5 miles a few times a week is an amazing achievement if you’re just starting out. While you may have goals to walk 5 miles daily, celebrate even the smaller victories along the way!
Every time you reach a new milestone to reach your final goal, celebrate! You don’t need to run out and do something drastic—make sure not to ruin your fitness goals!—but reward yourself with something small and meaningful each step.