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Dude, Vanessa Carlton had it all wrong. Why walk 1,000 miles (which will probably result in you being pretty dead) when walking 10 miles a day can have a ton of health benefits?
Walking is free and has great effects on your physical and mental health. Plus you get to see, and possibly even pet, random people’s doggos! There really is no downside, especially when there’s the COVID-19 pandemic going on and you need that change of scenery.
But is 10 miles too much? Do you really get a significant health boost for walking that much? And if so, what’s the best way to go about it?
Walking 10 miles a day might sound pretty intimidating. But as the saying goes, no pain, no gain.
When you look at the health benefits, you’ll probably discover that a good long walk offers more gain than pain for both physical and mental health. Research suggests that walking helps with:
Walking 10 miles a day is a good exercise that you can measure (plus, according to a small study, walking a set distance is often better than a set time when you’re trying to lose weight, as it’s more intense — plus, if you know you’re exercising only for a set time, it’s easier to slack off a little).
It gets you a good distance from home, meaning that your brain is engaged by all the new, shiny things it’s seeing. Plus you can bring a friend and gossip about how your favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant was totally robbed.
We hear ya. These are the crucial deets.
Well, the straight answer is that it depends on what you weigh. According to Harvard Medical School, you can calculate a rough calorie-burn figure from your weight and the speed of your activity. Depending on your current weight and how fast you’re walking (having a larger body and walking faster both burn more), you could probably expect to burn between 500 and 800 calories on a 10-mile jaunt.
It’s widely believed that you’ll burn more calories the faster you walk. So, if you power through those 10 miles, you’ll have burned off more calories and be home faster to get on with all the other stuff you need to do in your day.
However, if you have a bit of a larger body and walking fast is hard right now? Don’t sweat it. Even a slow walk is going to be better than no walk at all!
How walking 10 miles a day can help you lose weight
Let’s say that you fancy losing a pound per week off your waistline. Sounds hard, doesn’t it?
If you walk 10 miles a day, not so much! To lose a pound of weight per week, women should keep their calorie intake to 1500 per day, and men should stick to 2000 calories a day.
Getting a good amount of exercise can make your job much, much easier. Using our example above, a 10-mile walk can make 500 to 800 calories burn harder than that really mean insult you threw at your co-worker. So, if you’re not snacking on food with low nutrients in the meantime, you could totally achieve that pound per week.
If you’re following a specific diet or eating plan, just make sure that a dietitian or healthcare professional has recommended it. There’s no point harming yourself by following some faddy diet which makes you feel like crud. Otherwise, you’re not going to have the energy for that walk.
As awesome as those health benefits are, there’s no denying that 10 miles is a pretty long-ass walk. So, you’re going to want to follow some strategies, lest you get despondent and quit before you’ve even begun.
There’s two main ways to beat the doubts, and prove to yourself that you’re going to boss this:
- Adding a mile at a time. No one expects you to walk 10 miles straight away. That would be pretty effin’ hard. So, you’re going to take this step-by-step instead! Start with a single mile, or whichever distance feels most comfortable. Stick with that for a whole week, by which point your body will already be feeling fitter and more comfortable. Then, add an extra mile for your next week’s walks. Even if you start walking with a single mile, you’ll be hitting those 10-mile goals within 10 weeks!
- Taking some days off. Life gets busy, and sh*t happens. You’re probably not going to be able to walk 10 miles every single day. But it’s not a problem! In fact, it’s actually a good thing: Taking 1 or 2 nonconsecutive days off means that you’ll avoid overtraining. You don’t want to pull those leg muscles, not when they’re starting to look so good.
- Making those 10 miles bite-size. Want to know an awesome hack? A small study suggested that taking two or three shorter walks is as effective as one longer walk. That means you don’t need to do the whole 10 miles in one go! Take two 5 mile walks (one in the morning, one in the evening). It’s just as good for you.
OK, so not everything about walking 10 miles a day is awesome. There are a few drawbacks. And it’s a good idea to get acquainted with them before you commit to strutting on the sidewalk.
Walking takes a long time
You’ve probably already worked this one out, but walking 10 miles a day can take a long-ass time. It’s a significant chunk of your day, whether you’re doing them all in one go, or breaking them up into shorter walks. You can make them go faster by more intense walking, or make time fly with some favorite tunes, but it’s still a time-sink.
Walking is not intense exercise
The American Heart Association recommends activities such as running, swimming, and fast cycling as intense exercise. So, if you’re wanting to improve your aerobic fitness or strength, walking is not the droid you’re looking for.
They recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity exercise every week. Going for a gentle amble just isn’t going to cut it, even though you will feel improvements in both at first (although at 10 miles, you’ll likely be walking for *way* longer than 150 minutes).
Walking doesn’t provide the benefits of core, balance and weight training
Looking to pile on some major gains and look like a passable successor to Arnold Schwarzenegger? You might want to try something else. Walking can be great for weight loss, but it just doesn’t have the power to really boost those muscles.
Weight training is probably going to be better for your goals, as the higher-intensity exercise strengthens your muscles much more than a simple stroll. 🤖 Come with us if you want to lift. 🤖
Want those health benefits? Then you’ve got to walk those 10 miles in a way that’ll keep you fit, healthy, and uninjured (as well as motivated, because this is gonna be a lot, and you may be tempted to quit).
Make sure that you:
- Wear comfy shoes. Walking that distance puts repetitive strain on your body, which makes its displeasure known by setting fire to your feet, ankles, knees, and hips (we’ll send you $10 if you can reread that without hearing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”). Find a good pair of walking shoes, and (politely) tell your body to shut the heck up.
- Walk on soft surfaces. Want to know what’s not fun when you’re starting out on your walking adventure? Concrete, sidewalks, and other tough stuff. Try to keep to grass, dirt trails, or even athletics tracks when you’re a newbie.
- Find good routes. You’ll want to pick a path that won’t eventually bore you (so, ditch that athletics track pronto). Walking in local parks or outside spaces means you get great views and fresh air.
Want the gains without the pains? You can go a long way toward realizing that dream simply by investing in a good pair of walking shoes before you start out! It’ll help protect your feet, ankles, and knees, and generally make those 10 miles much easier to deal with.
We included a little price guide as well — prices fluctuate, so:
- $$$ = $140+
- $$ = $80 to $139
- $ = $40 to $79
Some ranges to check out include:
- New Balance 800 Series ($$). New Balance shoes in general come highly recommended for anyone who has knee pain, with the 800 series, in particular, being a star buy. Get these, your risk of knee pain plummets.
- Brooks Glycerin and Adrenaline ($$). Specialists in running and walking shoes, the Glycerin and Adrenaline lines are renowned. Worth the money.
- Sketchers GOwalk ($). Remember when Britney endorsed Sketchers, and we all wanted a pair? Turns out, she was right. Sketchers shoes are designed to be flexible, and the GOwalk series is podiatrist-approved. The clue’s in the name!
- Nike Epic React Flyknit ($$$). Nike has a shoe for every occasion, and these are designed specifically to be comfortable for walking. The cushioned soles are a dream!
- Merrell Moab 2 ($$). Built for walking outdoors, these are suitably tough and waterproof. They’re great all-terrain shoes with sturdy arch support to protect those tootsies.
So, you’re eagerly looking up your house on a map and seeing where you can walk that covers those 10 precious miles. That’s great! Your body is gonna thank you for it.
But it’s also important to factor in the time it’s going to chomp out of your day, the potential boredom of the route, and the risk of injuring your lower body if you’re not suitably prepared. Mix it up, be flexible, and prep accordingly.
Just remember not to push yourself too hard. Walking is about taking one step at a time, in every sense. Build yourself up to 10 miles, instead of throwing yourself in at the deep end. And be sure to supplement your efforts with a nutritious diet.
Prepare properly, and the trail will be your territory!