Learn how to add more distances to your walking routine

  Walking is one of the easiest exercises you can do, and it has many benefits as it can help keep your mind sharp, promote your heart health, and even relieve lower back pain. If you feel frustrated or anxious, daily walking can also help relieve your mood and calm your mind.

Whether you have just started a walking routine or are preparing for walking, you may be wondering how far you can walk safely.

How far should you walk without training?

"If you’re walking 20-minute miles, you could safely log 24 miles (or about 38.6 kilometers) during an eight-hour trek”. This is perfectly safe, “presuming you’re healthy and well-hydrated,”   says Austin Misiura, certified strength and conditioning specialist and physical therapist.

However, if you’re living with a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or have recently experienced symptoms like chest pain, dizziness or balance issues, make sure to check in with your doctor before you take on a longer-than-usual walk, says Lynell Ross, a physical therapist and walking instructor for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. That way, they can determine what distance is within a safe range for you personally.

 What about the risk of injury?

If you haven’t done any physical activity for a while, you can expect your legs and feet to be pretty sore if you try to walk more than about 90 minutes or a few miles at a time, says Misiura. You can blame DOMS (aka delayed-onset muscle soreness) for next-day aches, which are believed to come from microscopic tears in muscles that occur when you exercise. “However, as your muscles become more accustomed to long walks over a week or two, these should become less of an issue.”


For newcomers in the walking program, “you might end up with some blisters or notice some pain in an area like your knees due to weakness in the hips or buttocks,” says Nicole Lombardo, physiotherapist and Cross Fit Level 1 coach. “This is because other muscles or bones have to make up for the work weak muscles aren’t able to do,” she explains. But the chances of developing a walking injury like tendonitis or plantar fasciitis after one long walk are low — you’d typically have to walk longer-than-usual distances for multiple days in a row for that to happen, says Misiura.

To minimize injuries, “it’s better to avoid overdoing it and stay consistent rather than starting with a super intense session and then crashing,” says Kevin Padin, certified strength and conditioning specialist and a physical therapist.

 Here are some ways to add distance to your walking routine:

1. Get the right path

Opt for socks, tops and bottoms made with moisture-wicking materials and well-fitted walking shoes with the appropriate amount of support for your feet to avoid shin splints and blisters, suggests Steve Stonehouse, a certified personal trainer and U.S.A. Track & Field coach. Make sure to bring a bottle of water along with you, too  it’s better to have water and not need it than the other way around, he says.

 2. Start on the ground level

Begin walking longer distances on flat, level surfaces like a track or sidewalk, suggests Misiura. Making your muscles work harder with hills or an incline too soon increases your risk of injury, so it’s best to incorporate that later, he explains.


3. Think of minutes, not miles

Steve Stonehouse says: "Your body does not know the distance - it knows the time under tension." As such, it is best to measure your walks in minutes rather than miles, he says. Aim to walk for a prescribed length of time at first. A good rule of thumb: Consider how long you can typically walk (like during a trip to the mall or grocery store) and go from there, suggests Lombardo. Even a quick 10-minute walk can make a difference.

 For example; walk for 30 minutes:

While building your fitness level, try to shorten the length of your steady pace and work at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. (Feel free to adjust the length of time periods as needed.) If, for example, you are not able to catch your breath completely during the recovery period, you may need to spend more time between your work periods while enhancing endurance.

·        Warm-up (3 minutes): Walk at an easy and comfortable pace

·        Interval group (5 reps):

·        Steady state (3 minutes): Walk fast enough to lift your breath, but you can still talk easily.

·        High intensity (1 minute): Walk as fast as you can. At this speed your breathing should be very strenuous; difficult to speak.

·        Take a break for a minute: Walk at a comfortable pace and focus on catching your breath.

·        Cool down time (2 minutes): Walk on easy and comfortable pace. (Maybe add some extensions.)

4. Follow the rule 10%

“Overuse injuries come from doing too much too soon, so to start, limit yourself to 3–5 walks per week max with recovery days off in between,” says Misiura. To increase your walking distance safely, add no more than 10% of your walking volume each week, he suggests. For example, if you were walking 30 minutes for four days for a total of 120 minutes in the first week of walking, then you could add an additional 10-12 minutes for walking (or about 3 minutes for each walk) the following week. This allows your body to slowly adapt to more stress, becoming stronger rather than breaking down, he says.

5. Listen to your body

Look out for red flags that might indicate you’re walking too far too fast, such as pain that changes your stride or causes you to limp, makes it difficult to relax or sleep at night, or requires medication to treat, says Misiura. Any of the above is your cue to take a break and shorten your walks to avoid an overuse injury.

6. Make it fun

We tend to stick with an exercise if we like doing it, and if you’re enjoying yourself, you might find yourself walking longer with ease, say Ross. Consider scheduling walks with your partner or family, taking a relaxing walk in the park, or even dialing up the intensity of your walks with a racking workout.



Exactly how far is too far for a walk depends on your personal medical history and walking background. Your safest bet is to begin with a distance you already know you can walk — and gradually increase your walking distance. And remember: if the number of miles registered a little or a lot is not that important, but a regular walking routine is a wonderful addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Learn how to add more distances to your walking routine
 Learn how to add more distances to your walking routine

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