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It’s a no-brainer that walking can be great for your health, but will you need to spend hours strolling around to eke out those fitness perks? Knowing how long it takes to walk a mile can help you plan ahead.

Maybe you’ve decided running is a hard pass. Maybe you want to give speed walking competitions a try. Or, maybe you just want to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and you’re wondering how long it’s going to take. (Your own shoes are fine, too.)

No matter what you have planned, here’s everything you need to know to put one foot in front of the other.

It takes, on average, about 15 to 22 minutes to walk a mile according to a large, long-term study. How fast you’ll walk depends on a few things: age, gender, physical ability, terrain, and whether someone’s holding the door for you…

According to a 2011 study, men walk a bit faster than women, and your speed often decreases with age. Here are the breakdowns:

How long it takes to walk a mile: Men

AgeAverage speed (kilometers/hour)Average speed (miles/hour)Average mile time (minutes)
20 to 291.363.0419 min, 43 sec
30 to 391.433.218 min, 45 sec
40 to 491.433.218 min, 45 sec
>500.97–1.432.17–3.227 min, 38 sec–18 min, 45 sec

How long it takes to walk a mile: Women

AgeAverage speed (kilometers/hour)Average speed (miles/hour)Average mile time (minutes)
20 to 291.343.020 min
30 to 391.343.020 min
40 to 491.393.1119 min, 17 sec
>500.94–1.312.10–2.9328 min, 31 sec–20 min, 28 sec

The world record for the fastest mile ever walked is held by British Olympian Tom Bosworth at 5:31. That’s faster than most people can run that same distance — so it’s probably too ambitious a goal for first-timers.

Interested to see how fast your body can take you? There’s plenty of tech that can help you out. From pedometers to smart watches and phone apps, it’s easy to see your speed in real time and track your progress.

Apps like MapMyRun, FitBit (no band required), and Endomodo do the job of measuring distance and pace more accurately and easily than ever. You can also invest in watches from brands like Garmin and Apple that do almost everything except rub your feet after a long walk.

A good old-fashioned stopwatch (or the digital stopwatch on your phone) also still serves the purpose. Keep in mind: One lap around a typical outdoor track is a quarter-mile and indoor tracks are typically one-tenth or one-twelfth of a mile.

Races aren’t just for runners. USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body for foot racing, recognizes a wide range of official race-walking distances including everything from your basic 5K (3.1 miles) to ultramarathons of 31 and 62 miles. But, you probably won’t want to walk 500 miles

Average walking time per race distance

DistanceKilometers MilesAverage time (minutes, hours)
ultramarathon50–16131–1007:75– 36:67

If walking 30 minutes per day, shooting for a 20 to 30 minute pace, is a good general goal if you’re looking to reap the health benefits of walking. Just keep in mind: your biggest mile marker is your own progress.

It’s helpful to have goals to inspire you and to hold yourself accountable to, but just getting out there (or onto a treadmill) is a win. Aiming to do better than you did yesterday is still a big step toward a healthier you.

Research has found that even a small increase in walking can have big impacts on your overall health.

Accelerating your walking speed can accelerate your health benefits. Studies have shown that increasing how fast you walk can decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease (and who doesn’t want a happy heart?). A 2019 study found that faster walking speed is also associated with boosting brain health.

Regular walkers tend to live longer, have lower blood pressure, and be less prone to chronic disease. Sound good? Just don’t overdo it. While walking daily can help prevent certain joint pain, if you’re just starting out, walking too far too quickly could lead to an overuse injury.

Walking, especially speed walking, can be an effective way to manage your weight, but if you’re struggling to walk fast for the whole mile, don’t give up! Try alternating 30-second or 1-minute intervals of faster walking with 1 or 2 minutes at an easier pace. That’ll help you build endurance and provide some weight-management benefits of walking.

There’s nothing magical about the mile. In fact, one study on sitting, standing, and walking found that it was actually spending less time sitting down that had the biggest impact on weight loss.

If you have a 9-to-5 that has you stuck behind a desk all day, try spending some of your time standing or walking in place while you work. You could invest in a standing desk or try piling up some boxes under your laptop.

Speed walking can be a great, low impact, way to stay active whether or not you want to get involved in competition. You don’t have to go all Hal from Malcolm in the Middle with a morph suit and aerodynamic helmet to get into it, either.

According to the USA Track & Field, in order to qualify as “race walking” you need to keep contact with the ground at all times and your front leg has to be straight from the time your front foot hits the ground until it’s under your body.

To begin training, you could start with a weekly goal of 10 or 15 minutes per day for 5 days and gradually increase time, distance, pace, and number of workouts as you gain strength and endurance. Before long, you’ll be walking at super speed for 30 minutes or more, no sweat.

It takes around 15 to 22 minutes to walk a mile. If you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, lose weight, and live longer, walking is a great exercise whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned speed walker.

Don’t worry if you can’t walk a mile at record speed, just remember: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” And so does a 1-mile walk.