Walking is one of the most basic and natural forms of exercise. In fact, it’s the oldest form of transportation, something once needed every day to carry out tasks that were essential for survival. Now, with the use of cars, bikes, scooters, and public transportation, walking is no longer something we mustdo (to the same extent) in order to get around. This reality has led to a steep decline in the amount of walking we do on a daily basis.
But just because we don't need to walk to get from point A to point B doesn't mean the activity's benefits have changed. Walking is an enjoyable, sustainable form of exercise that still deserves a place in your weekly routine.
Benefits of Walking 5 Miles a Day
According to Jennifer Sobel, NASM-certified personal trainer, walking is low impact, which means it’s easy on the joints, making it an activity that can be performed by most able adults of any age. To score the most physical benefits of walking, however, you should aim to walk a decent distance.
“Because the pace of walking is slower than running, it means you’ll need a longer amount of time to cover the same distance and get the equivalent workout benefit,” Sobel explains. Walking 5 miles usually covers this basis and equates to what would be a 3-mile, or approximately 30-minute, cardiovascular workout. Here are some of the health benefits you can expect from walking 5 miles a day.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Heart health is incredibly important and something that should be emphasized for all U.S. adults, especially considering the fact that heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in America.
One of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health is to engage in aerobic activity, which includes walking. One study that looked at heart failure risk in postmenopausal women found that walking decreased that risk by 25 percent.
“It’s an ideal activity for heart health because you can always go at your own pace and increase your intensity gradually,” notes Sobel. “If you want to get the most cardiovascular benefit, just increase your pace.”
Did you know that walking can relieve stress? If you’ve had a hard day, walking is a healthy and effective way to clear your head, process your thoughts and get the stress-relieving benefits of endorphins, notes Sobel.
A simple walk outside can go a long way in improving the status of your mental health. In fact, research has linked aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, to an overall increase in mood.
The reason for this mental health boost is the result of an exercise-induced increase in the amount of blood flow to the brain, which has a direct effect on your body’s physiological response to stress.
If you’re clocking 5 miles a day, it's safe to say you're living an active lifestyle. Especially for individuals who work a traditional 9 to 5 desk job, this kind of habit can be incredibly helpful in managing weight and maintaining healthy movement habits.
Walking for extended periods of time can also build more muscles in your legs, according to Bill Daniels, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., and founder of Beyond Fitness. “We also build more muscle when we use them more, which increases your metabolism,” he says. “The more frequent and intense the exercise is, the faster your metabolism gets, which can give you more energy throughout the day.”
It might sound counterintuitive, but going for a walk when you’re particularly sluggish and low on energy may just do the trick and leave you feeling more energized than before you set out on your walking path.
“As you become more active, increase your metabolism and use more energy, your body
will become more efficient at using energy,” explains Daniels. “This means that you will have more energy during the day. So walking for exercise can improve your overall energy every day.”
How Long Does it Take to Walk 5 Miles?
There is a myriad of factors that can fluctuate how long it might take a person to walk 5 miles, including your speed, cadence (the number of steps your take per minute), the terrain you’re walking on, the incline, and your step length, according to Sobel.
On average, it takes about 20 minutes to walk a single mile, which would mean that it can take, on average, an hour and 40 minutes to walk 5 miles in a single effort.
A Word From Verywell
For a low-impact exercise that is accessible to most individuals on a daily basis, walking
is an excellent choice. Not only does it get your heart pumping and help build muscle, but it’s easy on your joints—a trait that we can all appreciate. If you're concerned about starting any new fitness routines or are experiencing pain, seek advice from a healthcare professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
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How many miles a day should I walk to lose weight?
Popular fitness trackers and pedometers encourage people to take 10,000 steps per day, and one 2016 study agrees that 10,000 steps are ideal. This works out to roughly 5 miles of walking. People interested in walking for weight loss should consistently hit at least 10,000 steps each day.
Is walking 5 miles a day enough exercise?
Committing to walking 5 miles a day is an excellent way to improve your health and boost your fitness without stressing your bones and joints as much as high-impact activities like running.
Will walking 5 miles a day help lose belly fat?
Walking might not be the most strenuous form of exercise, but it is an effective way to get in shape and burn fat. While you can't spot-reduce fat, walking can help reduce overall fat (including belly fat), which, despite being one of the most dangerous types of fat, is also one of the easiest to lose.
How much weight can I lose by walking 5 miles?
The average person burns about 100 calories for every mile walked. That means you'd burn roughly 500 calories each day and 3,500 calories in a week — the equivalent of one pound of fat. That's ideal, since it's generally considered safe to lose one to two pounds per week.