women taking a walk in the park
There are many benefits to increasing your step count, but there is such a thing as too much walking.Trinette Reed/Stocksy
Walking regularly can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes; help you maintain a healthy weight; and strengthen your muscles and bones.

But, as is the case for most physical endeavors, you can overdo it, experts say.

If you like to walk a lot, here’s what you should know.

Can You Walk Too Much in a Day?

Maybe you’re into the TikTok “hot girl walk” — an outdoor mindful walking practice that has gotten plenty of buzz in recent years (#hotgirlwalk currently has thousands of posts). Or maybe you’ve taken to the urban hiking trend, which for some means walking upwards of 10 to 15 miles per day (mostly in urban environments).

“There is no ‘maximal’ limit for walking or any exercise for that matter,” says Randy Cohn, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine doctor at Northwell Health Orthopaedic Institute in Garden City, New York.

The benefits of walking long distances could make the effort worthwhile. Besides improving heart health and lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, increasing your step count may prolong your life span. A study of over 4,800 U.S. adults published in 2020 found that walking more steps per day was associated with a lower risk of death from all causes than walking fewer steps per day.

“Trained walkers can walk [great] distances, even up to 20 to 30 miles in a day without major issues,” adds John Hinson, MD, an orthopedic specialist with Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida.

That said, your ability to rack up double-digit miles safely depends on a few factors, including your age, fitness level, joint health, and environmental conditions, like weather and sidewalk access, says Sarav Shah, MD, co-chief of the sports medicine division at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.

Read: You should train before you try one of those hours-long walks you see influencers promoting on social media.

Time is another consideration. “Untrained walkers can comfortably walk six miles in about two hours,” Dr. Hinson says — but if a two-hour walking workout doesn’t fit in your schedule, this fitness trend might not be for you.

Who Should Be Careful About Walking Too Much?

Though most of us could benefit from figuring out how to fit in more steps during the day, some people should be mindful about not overstepping their bounds.

People with cardiopulmonary issues such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease need to be especially careful not to overdo it with a lengthy walk due to its effect of raising the heart rate, Dr. Cohn says. “If increasing heart rate is potentially dangerous to a person, they need to be especially wary and talk to their medical team about any exercise plan,” he says.

Muscle and joint problems in the legs and feet might also preclude you from long walks. “People with foot and lower extremity problems such as knee arthritis need to be careful about not walking too much in a day so as to not exacerbate these conditions,” Hinson says. High-quality, well-fitting walking shoes may also lower the risk of pain from walking for people with joint issues like arthritis.

Others who may need to limit walking include people with respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as elderly individuals, Dr. Shah notes. “Falls are a big concern for the [older] demographic, so they should avoid overexertion to prevent accidents,” he says.

How to Know If You’re Walking Too Much

A long walk can make you feel invigorated, even if you're sore afterward. However, it shouldn’t cause overuse injuries. “An overuse injury occurs when a repetitive movement is performed to the point of injuring the ligaments, tendons, and muscles,” says April Gatlin, an ACE-certified personal trainer based in Chicago.

So how do you know if you’re reaching the point of overuse? Watch for physical signs. “If there is pain in the joints, stiffness in the body, or abnormal feelings in the joints, dial back the distance or take a rest day,” Gatlin says. Consult your doctor if the pain doesn’t improve or it returns after a break from walking.

Other indicators you’re exercising too much include difficulty sleeping, mood changes like irritability or anxiety, and an increased resting heart rate, Shah notes. These could be signs that your body is overstressed and needs a rest.

How to Equip Your Body to Walk a Lot in a Day

Like any other exercise, long-distance walking is something to work up to.

Doing the following can help you train your body to walk longer distances pain- and injury-free:

  • Train progressively. “Progressive training is the best way to adequately prepare for the endurance aspect of this exercise,” Gatlin says. Start by walking a manageable distance and gradually lengthen by no more than 10 percent per week as you’re able.

    ?For many, aiming for 10,000 steps per day can be a great goal.
  • Strength train. Gatlin also recommends strength training with exercises that work various muscle groups but focus on the muscles you rely on for walking. The best strength exercises for walkers are those that target the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the thighs), hamstrings (the muscles on the back of the thighs), glutes (buttocks), back muscles, and abdominals.
  • Take appropriate safety precautions before you set out. Ensuring your safety is paramount when engaging in a long walk. Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated, wear appropriate walking shoes, and choose well-lit, populated areas for your walks.

The Takeaway

Regular walking can offer many health benefits, but there are risks to walking too much. To walk longer distances pain- and injury-free, start with manageable distances and gradually progress, strengthen the muscles you use for walking, and take standard safety precautions like walking in well-lit areas. Painful joints, stiffness in the body, difficulty sleeping, and mood changes are signs that you may be overdoing exercise.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

Sources

  1. The Benefits of Walking. National Institutes of Health. March 2016.
  2. Saint-Maurice P et al. Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among U.S. Adults. JAMA. March 2020.
  3. 5 Walking Strategies. Arthritis Foundation.
  4. Fitness Program: 5 Steps to Get Started. Mayo Clinic. December 5, 2023.
Show Less
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news