In today’s fast-paced world, walking is often overlooked as a form of exercise. The CDC recommends we aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity such as brisk walking to maintain good health and lower our risk for chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease (8). Walking can be an easy way to get those extra steps in with minimal effort on your part: you don’t need any special equipment or training; all you need is some time and a pair of shoes! Walking also has many other benefits besides counting towards your daily step count. In this article, we will look at some of the many benefits, and give tips on how to ensure you burn more calories and actually lose weight through walking.
Benefits of Walking 4 Miles a Day
There are several health benefits of walking every day (16). They include:
Improved Blood Circulation
Walking boosts your heart rate and increases the flow of blood through your body. Moderate-intensity physical activity, like walking, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels (5).
Strengthen Bone Mass
Prevents or Manages Diabetes
Walking is a great exercise for diabetics, as it can help reduce your blood sugar levels (10).
Walking 4 miles a day is equivalent to burning around 250 calories each day. If you do this four days a week and maintain your current diet, you will lose around one pound each week.
However, walking 4 miles a day for weight loss is a more complicated process whose results depend on several factors.
If you are overweight, you will likely lose more weight by walking than someone who is already at a healthy weight. The intensity of your walk also makes a difference – brisk walking burns more calories than leisurely strolling (2). And finally, your genetics plays a role in how quickly or slowly you lose weight.
Prevents or Manages Back Pain
Walking can help reduce chronic back pain by strengthening muscles in your core that help to support the spine (13). It also helps to improve posture, which is important for reducing unnecessary strain on your spine.
Improves Mental Health
Regular exercise, including walking, can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It has a similar effect on the brain as antidepressants, but without the negative side effects.
Being active helps you think more clearly and gets rid of stress by releasing endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel good and can improve your mood (4).
Improves Cognitive Performance
Research has shown that walking can improve cognitive performance, especially in older adults. Walking regularly can help to preserve memory and thinking skills as you age (6).
Walking is a great way to increase your energy throughout the day. It helps to stimulate your metabolism and get your blood flowing.
Improves Quality of Sleep
A lack of sleep can affect so many areas of your life, including how quickly you burn calories. It’s important to get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night to avoid these negative effects. Walking 4 miles a day makes it easier for you to sleep through the night and helps to improve your overall quality of sleep by increasing the amount of deep sleep you get (14).
Creates Social Connections
Walking is a great way to connect with friends and family members. It’s a social activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Spending time outdoors also exposes you to fresh air and natural sunlight, both of which are good for your mental health.
How to Walk 4 Miles a Day
If your goal is to burn as many calories as possible, you need to include walking with good intensity and good form.
What Is Good Form for Walking 4 Miles a Day?
Good form for walking includes:
- Maintaining a good posture, with your head up and back straight.
- Picking the right pace – you should be able to talk but not sing while you walk.
- Keeping your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and moving them forward and back as you walk.
- Walking heel-to-toe so as to avoid dragging your feet while you walk.
Why Does Good Form Matter?
Good form helps you walk at a good pace for an extended period of time. It also helps to prevent injuries, which can slow down your progress or stop you from walking altogether (9).
How to Increase the Intensity of Your Walk
If you are looking to burn more calories, you need to increase the intensity of your walk. This can be done by either increasing your pace, using hills for more difficulty, or adding resistance.
Increase Your Pace to Burn More Calories
If you are looking for a simple way to burn more calories while walking 4 miles a day, you should increase the speed at which you walk. The faster you walk, the higher your heart rate will be and the more calories you will burn.
Make Hills More Difficult to Burn More Calories
In addition to increasing your pace, you can also use hills to increase the intensity of your walk. This can be done by walking up the hills slowly or even running up them.
Add Resistance to Burn More Calories
You can also add resistance to raise the intensity of your walk. This can be done by using things like canes or walking with ankle weights.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
Your walking gear must include:
The Right Shoes
A good pair of walking shoes is essential for protecting your feet while you walk (15). They should have plenty of support and cushioning to protect your joints, but still be lightweight enough to allow you to move quickly.
The Right Outfit
Keep in mind that the more comfortable you are, the easier it will be for you to exercise for a longer period of time. If you are going to walk outside when it’s hot, your outfit should be breathable. If it’s cold or rainy, you must cover up to protect yourself from the elements
A Hydration Kit
Hydrating before, during, and after exercise can help your body to maintain its normal temperature, so you don’t overheat or dehydrate. It can also improve muscle function, which will allow you to walk further than ever before.
Water is the best choice for hydrating before you exercise. It’s also the best choice for drinking during exercise, but if it isn’t available, electrolyte-rich energy drinks will do the trick (11). Just avoid sweetened sports drinks that do more harm than good.
A Quality Sports Watch
You can’t monitor your progress without a sports watch. Your walking watch should be able to track your time, speed, distance, and overall progress.
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Tips for Getting the Best Results Out of Walking 4 Miles a Day
Walking 4 miles a day is just one part of the equation. You must also consider your diet and exercise program to get the best results. Here are some tips for getting the most out of walking 4 miles a day:
Change Your Diet
Food is fuel, especially if you’re trying to lose weight through exercise (17). When your diet is healthy, it gives you the energy that you need for walking 4 miles a day and much more.
Here are some diet changes you can make to improve your results:
- Include lean protein in every meal
- Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat vegetables and fruits at every meal
- Choose whole grains or other complex carbs over simple carbs
Create an Exercise Schedule
Creating an exercise schedule will help you stay committed and accountable for what you need to do every day to burn calories and lose weight. Make sure to build in time for stretching before and after your walk, as well as foam rolling or other recovery tools like a massage ball.
Commit to Your Routine
In order to see results, you must be willing to commit to your routine. This means that you should avoid missing workouts, eating unhealthy foods, and slacking on your walking schedule.
Add Interval Training
If you want to see even better results, add interval training to your walks. This can be done by adding short bursts of running or speed walking to your regular walks.
You may also choose to incorporate strength training into your program. This can be done two or three times a week, on non-walking days.
Get Plenty of Rest
Our bodies are designed to function best when we get at least seven hours of sleep every night. This allows our body to recover and reduces the risk of muscle injury (7). If you feel like your lack of sleep is slowing down your progress, try getting an extra hour or two before bedtime.
Increase Your Activity Levels Throughout the Day
You should also focus on increasing your overall activity levels throughout the day. This means making an effort to take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators, parking further away in parking lots, and doing movements like the plank.
Add Variety to Your Workout
Doing the same thing each and every day will cause your progress to plateau. You need to constantly change things up in order to burn more calories throughout the day and lose weight faster. This can be as simple as adding a mile or two onto your daily walk or switching up the intensity of your workout.
Lower Your Stress Levels
Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, so it’s important that you try your best to lower your stress levels. Stressed people are likely to eat more, sleep less, experience muscle tension, have trouble focusing at work or school, etc., all of which stops them from losing weight (3). Here are just some of the many ways to reduce stress:
- Meditating for just 10 minutes per day
- Practicing yoga or stretching
- Eating a healthy diet
- Listening to calming music
- Spending time with loved ones
- Taking a relaxing bath
Walk with a Friend
If you find it hard to stay motivated, try walking with a friend. Not only will this make the time go by faster, but you can also encourage each other to push yourselves harder than ever before (1).
Side Effects of Walking 4 Miles a Day
As with any other form of exercise, there are some potential side effects associated with walking 4 miles a day. These can include things like:
- Soreness in the muscles
- Achiness in the joints
- Inability to focus
It’s important that you listen to your body and back off if you experience any of these symptoms. Take a day or two off if you need it, and then slowly start adding more miles back into your walks as your body allows.
If you have had injuries or mobility issues, please consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
The Bottom Line
Walking 4 miles a day is a great way to burn calories and lose weight, but it’s important that you take the necessary precautions to avoid potential injuries. Make sure to add interval training, strength training, and plenty of rest to your program in order to see the best results. Remember to focus on increasing your overall activity levels throughout the day, adding variety to your routine, and lowering your stress levels. And lastly, try walking with a friend to stay motivated.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 3 Reasons to Work Out With a Friend (2021, cdc.gov)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities (2021, health.harvard.edu)
- Does stress influence sleep patterns, food intake, weight gain, abdominal obesity and weight loss interventions and vice versa? (2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety (2013, frontiersin.org)
- Exercise and Cardiovascular Health | Circulation (2013, ahajournals.org)
- Exercise for Brain Health: An Investigation into the Underlying Mechanisms Guided by Dose – Neurotherapeutics (2019, link.springer.com)
- How does sleep help recovery from exercise-induced muscle injuries? (2021, sciencedirect.com)
- How much physical activity do adults need? | Physical Activity (2021, cdc.gov)
- Perfecting your walking technique (2020, health.harvard.edu)
- Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association (2016, care.diabetesjournals.org)
- Practical Hydration Solutions for Sports (2019, mdpi.com)
- The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients (2018, hindawi.com)
- The effectiveness of walking as an intervention for low back pain: a systematic review (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effect of daily walking exercise on sleep quality in healthy young adults – Sport Sciences for Health (2021, link.springer.com)
- Walking shoes: Features and fit that keep you moving (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Walking to health (1997, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies – Weight Management (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)