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Walking a mile a day: Benefits + 7 tips to get you started

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These days lots of people talk about getting your steps in.

But you don’t need to walk for miles and miles, just walking a mile a day is a respectable starting point.

Walking one mile a day (around 2,000 steps on average) correlates highly with building a more active lifestyle, losing weight, and improving overall health and fitness. 

Yet the benefits of walking extend to more than just the physical aspect. Walking is also fantastic for our mental health. 

According to the NHS, brisk walking, and its bigger, burlier cousin power walking, have been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

It’s perfect – you don’t need a gym membership or to feel like a hamster on a wheel (treadmill).

All you need is your legs, your feet, and to start doing that thing you learned many, many years ago – walking!

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • What does walking a mile a day do?
  • What are the benefits of walking a mile a day?
  • How long does it take to walk a mile?
  • Is walking a mile a day enough exercise?
  • Can you lose weight by walking a mile a day?
  • How many calories does walking a mile burn?
  • 7 tips for walking a mile a day

Ready?

Let’s get started!

walking a mile a day

What does walking a mile a day do?

The great thing about walking a mile a day is that it sticks two fingers up at the enemy of anyone starting their fitness and walking journey: lack of motivation.

One little mile just isn’t that far and will not demand a significant amount of your time.

Maybe you’re returning to exercise having been pregnant or having raised a kid (or multiple kids!), or maybe you’ve taken an extended break from exercise.

That’s ok, just get out there and do it and you’ll see what starts to happen. 

1 mile becomes 2 miles, 2 miles become 5 miles, and anything upwards of 5 miles and you’re really on the way to becoming a champion and slaying that motivation demon.

Related: Running 5 miles a day: Pros and cons + 6 actionable tips

What are the benefits of walking a mile a day?

There are pages and pages of studies, TED talks, and YouTube videos out there which confirm the benefits of walking. 

The best thing to do is just get out there and walk! There’s no confirmation better than your own experience.

Here are just a handful of the many great benefits of walking:

#1 Increased energy and focus

Walking 1 mile a day, especially when done in the morning, positively kickstarts your day through the release of endorphins and gets you off to the best start.

You will feel ready for anything!

#2 Confidence and self-esteem boost

According to a University of Essex study, outdoors exercise like walking can improve recovery from acute mental stress and is a vital tool in rebuilding confidence and self-esteem.

#3 Reduced risk of heart disease

One of the major benefits of walking is how it contributes to overall heart health.

The British Heart Foundation tells us heart disease and high blood pressure are the UK’s biggest killers. 

Walking a mile a day will also do wonders for your cardiovascular fitness.

It will reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, and it’s completely FREE!

Related: Running 2 miles a day: Benefits + how to do it

walking a mile a day

How long does it take to walk a mile a day?

As we have already mentioned, one mile is not a massive distance and can be an attainable goal for anybody, whether you’re a complete beginner or getting back into exercise.

Expect to walk this distance in 15 to 22 minutes if you’re walking at the Center for Disease Control’s recommended average pace of 2.5 to 4mph.

Of course, your physical fitness level, age, gender, and even the terrain will affect your results.

Competitive walkers and those who enjoy speed walking can do 11-minute miles.

In fact, Britain’s Tom Bosworth currently holds the one-mile walk world record of 5 minutes and 31.08 seconds, which he smashed at the Anniversary Games, London in 2017.

Although we’re not asking anyone to break this!

Related: Walking one hour a day: Benefits + expected results

Is walking a mile a day enough exercise?

This all depends on a few factors, but mostly it boils down to the following:

  • Goals
  • Lifestyle
  • Level of fitness

Where do see yourself in the future?

Is this just a baby step to eventually running 5k, 10k, a half marathon, or maybe even a full marathon?

Or are you content to keep walking one mile a day and smashing records on a daily basis? 

None of these goals is more valid than the other, it’s about moving your body and getting your daily dose of the recommended 20 minutes’ of exercise.

And remember, walking as an exercise in isolation is brilliant, but lots of people combine walking with other forms of exercise.

Strength training, high intensity workouts, swimming, yoga, Pilates – you name it, and this really compounds their fitness goals. 

Related: Walking 2 miles a day: 12 benefits + how to start

walking a mile a day

Can you lose weight by walking a mile a day?

Absolutely!

Walking by itself contributes to weight loss simply by moving your body from A to B and burning calories in the process. 

Yet there are other, perhaps less perceptible ways in which walking aids with weight loss and burning fat:

Weight loss through optimum sleep

Try walking a mile a day in the morning sun.

Getting the morning light in your eyes helps to maintain the circadian rhythm (the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle).

In turn this will reduce sleep onset, and good quality sleep has been shown to aid with weight loss through proper digestion.

Weight loss through healthy digestion

Walking a mile a day also promotes regular bowel movements which help to reduce bloat and constipation.

It also helps to improve metabolism, all of which are super important when it comes to weight loss.

Weight loss through happiness

And here’s another win. Walking 1 mile a day makes you HAPPY!

If you’re depressed, anxious, or just feeling a little down, get out in that sun and say good morning to other fellow walkers. 

It’s only small, but it makes a world of difference, and happy people make healthy decisions when it comes to diet and lifestyle.

Related: Running for weight loss: The most effective running workouts to help you lose weight

How many calories does walking a mile a day burn?

Walking a mile a day burns 100 calories. That’s 700 calories a week, and over 36,000 a year!

Even more if you’re surrounded by hills and inclines, and even if you’re not, you can always find some staircases and incorporate these into your daily walks.

Brisk walking or power walking will further impact the number of calories you’re burning, as this pushes your body further over the same distance.

As a rule, the more you sweat, the more you shed.

Related: Do you burn more calories on your period? Your common questions answered

walking a mile a day

7 tips for walking a mile a day

#1 Walk first thing in the morning

21 days makes a habit. That’s just 3 weeks.

If you make walking a mile a day the very first thing you do each day, you will truly calcify this into a habit and make it an essential part of your daily life.

#2 Find a friend to walk with

Been neglecting your friends, family or colleagues? Then invite them to come along!

Kill two birds with one stone and make that catch-up part of your exercise routine. 

Plus, you have somebody to hold you accountable to your fitness goals and to motivate you.

#3 Walk in the right gear

Just because it’s walking, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the right gear.

Invest in some good quality walking or running shoes

Be mindful of what you wear and pay attention to the weather, do you need waterproofs, a sun hat, layers?

Make sure you have a backpack to store these things when not worn.

#4 Pace yourself

Don’t race out of the trap all guns blazing – pace yourself.

Start easy for the first 5-10 minutes and increase the pace and your heart rate from there.

Walking too fast will defeat the objective and increase fatigue.

#5 Mix it up

You don’t need to walk the same route every day. Add some variety to your walks and incorporate some hills or stairs. 

If you’re confident, you could wear a weighted vest or ankle and wrist weights (these also aid in weight loss).

#6 Be mindful of your breathing and posture

Correct walking technique makes for a more comfortable walk free of strains and injuries.

Try to relax while keeping your spine erect and be sure to maintain a forward gaze.

It’s important to breathe. Be mindful of breathing through your nose and out through your mouth. Breaths should be deep and slow.

Eventually it will become routine and automatic.

#7 Enjoy it!

None of the above six points are relevant if you’re not enjoying it.

Everything else follows from this point.

Walking a mile a day is joy and should be something you look forward to, so embrace this newly formed habit.

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