Walking is one of the best and most accessible ways to get active.
Not only is it free, but it offers a range of health benefits from improving your overall fitness to helping you lose weight and burn calories.
Whether you’re walking to improve your health or to return to physical activity following an injury, walking 2 miles a day is a great way to build up your fitness and activity levels.
So what exactly are the benefits of walking 2 miles a day, and what is the best way to get started?
In this guide we’ll explore:
- Why walk 2 miles a day?
- What are the benefits of walking 2 miles a day?
- How much weight can you lose by walking 2 miles a day?
- Walking 2 miles a day Q&A
- How to start walking 2 miles a day
Why walk 2 miles a day?
There are many health benefits associated with walking, and by walking 2 miles a day you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re investing in your health.
Many people enjoy walking as a leisurely activity, but some people opt to walk if they are returning to running following an injury, or they are taking a break from running.
Whatever your reasons for walking 2 miles a day, make sure they align with your goals.
12 benefits of walking 2 miles a day
There are many physical and mental benefits of walking 2 miles a day.
According to a 2015 study, walking groups are effective and safe and have a wide range of health benefits.
Participants involved in various studies reported significant reductions in blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index, body fat, total cholesterol and an increase in VO2 Max.
The study concludes that walking is a great supplementary form of exercise to other healthcare or as a proactive health-promoting activity.
Here are 12 benefits of walking 2 miles a day:
- Helps you stay healthy
- Boosts your mood
- Helps you sleep better
- Strengthens your bones, muscles and joints
- Improves your cardiovascular fitness
- Helps you lose weight
- Offers a free way to get fit
- Allows you to get outdoors more
- Offers a low impact alternative to running
- Slows down mental decline
- Improves your energy levels
- Increases your endurance
#1 Helps you stay healthy
Exercise like walking helps you to stay healthy by reducing the risk of diseases like heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers.
#2 Boosts your mood
Walking is one of the best ways to zone out and take yourself away from the stresses of modern life.
It has shown to produce exercise-induced endorphins with give you that ‘feel good’ feeling like you experience on a run.
Studies have also shown that walking helps to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
#3 Helps you sleep better
Adding exercise into your daily routine – whether that be walking, running or cycling – has been shown to help you sleep better.
According to the Sleep Foundation, moderate to vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing sleep onset – or the time it takes to fall asleep.
Exercise can also help alleviate daytime sleepiness and, for some people, reduce the need for sleep medications.
#4 Strengthens your bones, muscles and joints
Walking is a load-bearing activity so your bones, muscles and joints become stronger every time you take a step forward.
Bone health is important when warding off diseases like osteoarthritis. Strong muscles and joints also help to prevent common running injuries.
#5 Improves your cardiovascular fitness
Cardiovascular fitness is a key component of physical fitness.
Sustained physical activity like walking and running improves your cardiovascular fitness, that is your ability to deliver oxygen to your working muscles.
As your aerobic capacity increases through regular walking, this has positive direct and indirect impacts on muscular endurance, strength and flexibility.
#6 Helps you lose weight
Walking regularly helps you to maintain a healthy weight, helps you lose weight, and burns calories.
Studies have also shown that walking groups help to lower your body mass index and decrease body fat.
#7 Offers a free way to get fit
As the old saying goes – the best things in life are free.
Forget about expensive gym memberships or the latest fitness craze, walking offers a simple and inexpensive way to get fit and get outdoors more.
#8 Allows you to get outdoors more
As one of the best ways to experience what the great outdoors has to offer, walking is enjoyed by many across the land who want to get their fresh air fix.
Walking is also seen as a green and environmentally-friendly way to get about – even more reason to pick up your walking shoes!
#9 Offers a low impact alternative to running
Many people turn to walking if they are returning to running after a long break or injury as it offers a low-impact alternative to running.
The Couch to 5k training plan is so popular because it offers a gentle way to start running by combining periods of walking and running.
#10 Slows down mental decline
Walking and running are considered forms of cardiovascular exercise, as such they act as the best ways to slow age-related decline and brain degeneration throughout ageing.
Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia and multiple sclerosis can be slowed down and even reduced by performing regular cardiovascular exercise.
#11 Improves your energy levels
Staying active by walking boosts your energy levels, and going out for a morning walk provides you with an energy boost that lasts throughout the day.
#12 Increases your endurance
A regular walking habit can do wonders for your endurance and stamina.
Distance walking in particular builds endurance, helps to burn calories, and trains your body physically and mentally to walk for longer.
How much weight can you lose by walking 2 miles a day?
You may be wondering: “Can I lose weight by walking 2 miles a day?”
The good news is that you can lose weight by walking, but not necessarily in the ways you think.
Here are some tips on how to lose weight when walking:
#1 Increase the intensity of your walk
The higher the intensity of your workout, the more sweat and calories you’ll burn.
If you live near a hilly area, consider walking up hills to increase the intensity of your walk.
Not close to hills or mountains? Then try walking on a treadmill and set it at an incline.
#2 Increase your pace
As with the intensity of your walks, the pace also matters when it comes to weight loss.
You burn more calories when your heart beats faster – also called the ‘fat burning heart rate zone’.
When you work out in your ‘fat burning heart rate zone’ (which is 70% of your maximum heart rate), your body taps into fat stores for energy instead of using basic sugar and carbs. This results in fat loss.
To calculate your fat burning heart rate, you need to first calculate your maximum heart rate which is the maximum number of times your heart should beat during activity.
To work this out, subtract your age from 220.
For example, if you’re a 35 year old your maximum heart rate is 220 minus 35 – which is 185 beats per minute.
To enter the fat burning zone, you want your heart rate to be 70% of 185, which is about 130 beats per minute.
The key takeaway? The optimal heart rate for walking for weight loss is any number over 70%.
#3 Add some weights
When you add more resistance to a workout in the form of weights, you have more chance of losing weight and burning more calories.
Consider investing in some ankle or wrist weights, a weighted vest or a pair of light dumbbells to make your walking that much more demanding.
#4 Eat a balanced diet
As the old saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
This is certainly true when it comes to walking and weight loss. Ensure you stick to a healthy, balanced diet and consume the right amounts of foods.
Eating a calorie-restricted diet will help you burn fat. This means shaving off between 15-18% of total recommended daily calories.
For example, if you consume around 2,400 calories a day, a calorie-restricted diet would drop that to between 1,960-2,040 calories per day.
By reducing your calorie intake and combining this with exercise like walking, you will soon see changes.
Walking 2 miles a day Q&A
Q: How many steps are there in a mile?
A: There are approximately 2,000 steps in a mile.
Q: How long does it take to walk 2 miles?
A: On average, it takes 40 minutes to walk 2 miles if you walk at a pace of 3mph.
However, there are many factors that will affect how fast you can walk 2 miles.
Factors such as your age, gender, fitness levels and even the weather and terrain will affect how fast you are able to walk.
How to start walking 2 miles a day
Now you know all about walking 2 miles a day, here are some tips on how to start walking 2 miles a day.
#1 Wear the right gear
As with running, wearing the right gear is important to ensure you are comfortable and supported when walking.
For longer walks, your shoes will need to provide more structure and comfort to reduce tiredness and fatigue in your feet.
You’ll also want to invest in some basic athletic gear. Sweat-wicking fabrics like polyester and Merino wool will help you stay dry and cool on your walks.
The weather may change on your walk so it’s best to be prepared for all eventualities – consider packing a waterproof and windproof jacket.
You may also consider wearing a backpack to hold all those extra layers when you’re not wearing them.
#2 Pay attention to your walking posture and technique
Proper walking posture and technique will help to make your walk more comfortable and ward off any strains and injuries.
As with running form and posture, you’ll want to walk in a way that places the least amount of stress on your body.
Here are some tips on proper posture when walking:
- Don’t look down when you walk – keep your gaze upright.
- Don’t take very long strides – overstriding can put pressure on your leg joints.
- Don’t slouch – keep your shoulders down and back and keep your spine elongated.
- Don’t walk in the wrong shoes – wear shoes that are cushioned so they absorb the shock of your foot hitting the ground.
#3 Walk at an easy pace
Start your walk at an easy pace for about 5-10 minutes then walk at a pace that brings your heart rate up to 65% of your maximum heart rate.
If you’re going for a long distance walk of 5-10+ miles, then pacing is essential to build up your endurance and stamina slowly.
Big leaps in distance or walking too fast will increase your risk of tiredness, fatigue and injury.
#4 Stay hydrated
Make sure you are able to drink whenever you feel thirsty. Take a large bottle of water with you.
You may also consider taking sports energy drinks with you to keep your energy levels high and replace lost fluids.
Energy bars, energy gels, trail mix and fruit are also good snacks to take with you on a long distance walk.