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Wendy Bumgardner

How Much Walking is Too Much?

By January 12, 2011

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Jim started our free Walk of Life 70-Day Program and writes, "I am 69 yrs old and in good health other than being a little overweight which is why I wanted to complete this program. I have been doing your daily walks. I am on day 13 and have been keeping up just fine.  Is there a point where someone at my age should back off and not "over do it"?  Any guidelines for us "to dumb to know when to quit guys"?  Help."

When you start an exercise program, especially if you haven't been doing anything at all, it's important to start slowly and gradually build up your time and intensity. We have the Let's Get Walking program for those who are new to walking any distance. It builds you up to brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. That is the recommended minimum level of exercise for basic health, as promoted by health authorities worldwide. The Walk of Life Program can also be done by beginners, as the daily walking schedule is given in a range for beginners through seasoned walkers.

For those over age 65, there is no slacking off in the recommendations. They still recommend a minimum 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) at least five days a week. Plus, they recommend strength training two days a week and balance and flexibility exercises also. Exercise Guidelines for Over Age 65

But, But, What About Walking Too Much?
Back to the original question, how much is too much? A common mistake is starting off walking too fast or for too long at a session. That's why I begin any training program by telling you to slow down and work on your walking technique for the first couple of weeks. Getting your posture and stride right at an easy pace is critical to being able to walk faster and longer.

  • Walking too fast:  Slow down and work on your walking technique -- practice the correct posture and stride.
  • Walking too far: If you haven't been walking at all, I recommend starting with no more than a 15 to 20 minute walk. If you get in a lot of lifestyle walking, then it's OK to start with a 30-minute walk.  Increase your longest distance gradually.  It is best to increase it only by 15 minutes each week (which is between a kilometer and a mile distance for most of us).
  • Alternate easy and hard days: The day after your longest walk of the week, take a rest day, work on stretching and flexbility, or just take an easy walk. If you are using the weekly walking workout schedule, you see that any day with a hard workout is followed by an easy day or a rest day.
  • Take a rest day: Listen to your body and take a rest day if you are experiencing fatigue and muscle aches. Get in enough walking to loosen up, but save the longer workouts for the next day.
  • Maybe walking isn't your thing: The key to lifelong fitness is finding the activity you enjoy and will want to do for 30-60 minutes most days of the week. If your feet, knees and hips are telling you that walking isn't it, then explore swimming and bicycling as good aerobic alternatives.
  • Too much of a good thing? Jim worried that he just wouldn't know when to quit. Overtraining is a risk for people who have the sort of personality that drives them to always be doing more, more, more.  If  you are prone to overtraining, then you need to schedule your easy/hard days and your rest day. Stick with a schedule and don't give in to the temptation to do too much, too soon, too often.
Comments
January 24, 2011 at 8:54 pm
(1) Betsy says:

I was trying to push myself to walk 2 miles in 40 minutes (on a 1/3 mile track that starts as an incline); I was frustrated because I considered it “work” as opposed to healthy exercise. Then I read the advice about doing too much. I then told myself that I didn’t HAVE to do 40 minutes every day, that I could do 20, or 30, or 35 if I felt like it. Now I just walk and actually enjoy the 40 minutes (no, I didn’t cut back).

June 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm
(2) Gary says:

I am 68 years old and 3 months ago I began a eating exercise weight program with my wife. She does weight watchers and I count calories. I am up to 4 miles per hour or should say I walk 4 miles in just under an hour. 57 minutes to be exact.

I walk at an indoor fitness center where I use machines and the track.

My biggest question is how much is too much? I walk 3-6 miles in the morning and return in the evening and do the same but only 4 miles. I feel fine so I do 6 days a week and when they are closed on Sunday I walk 6-8 miles.

Am I doing to much? It is becoming an addiction as I don’t feel right if I haven’t walked at least 3 miles in a day.

August 31, 2011 at 11:46 pm
(3) Jim says:

I’m 65 years old and walk 10 miles a day 6 days a week and 13 miles on Sunday . My average speed is 3.5 to 4 miles an hour with an average heart rate of 75-80% of max except for the final mile which is up a steep grade hill where I reach 100% of max.

I’ve been doing this for seven years and feel great but wonder if I should start to reduce it a little as I have gotten older. I also do 30 minutes of resistance training everyday on different body parts. Am I doing too much. I weigh 160 lbs, 5’8″ with 32″ waist. No meds, no aliments.

September 1, 2011 at 9:13 am
(4) walking says:

Jim, you are a great example of someone with excellent fitness. When it comes to slowing down, I would say only to do it if your body is telling you it needs a rest day or a little time off. If you are getting fatigue, aches, pain, etc. then you may need to build in some rest days.

September 24, 2011 at 7:15 am
(5) Louis says:

Do I walk too much? I walk 7 miles a day around a mountain with about an 800 foot elevation (not a flat walk). I feel great, but wonder if I am harming my body, I walk the mountain in the morning, and then another four miles flat in the evening, for a total of 11 miles a day. Is this OK? It’s kind of an obsession. I am 52 and in great shape, and have been doing this for almost thirty years.

May 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm
(6) Aremu says:

I am 49 years old, obese Housewife meaning not doing anything, all the children are adult now. Am I doing too much walking two hours a day.

June 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm
(7) Christi says:

I’m confused and searching for answers. How many steps equals a mile?

I ask because at work I average 20,000 steps in an 8 hour shift. About 1/3 is done at a verra brisk pace. Plus, I often have 25-30 lbs of weight I’m transporting from one spot to another over a 20-30 foot distance. I’m also skidding about 2-3 tons worth of 35 lb cartons per day.

It seems the walk/run takes the hardest toll on me. I’m female, 5’1, 112 lbs. I can lift stuff all day but that walking, gads.

Any input about how much walking is too mcuh would be greatly appreciated.

August 7, 2013 at 5:56 am
(8) Alex says:

I walk like 3.5 miles to work and 3.5 miles back home, because I don’t like public transport.
It takes me on average 45 minutes to walk 3.5 miles.
Mind you I do this “excercise” every workday, only on weekends do I “rest”, so to me this is not excersice, but rather a necessity.
It certainly saves me a lot of money, sinse I don’t have to pay the outrageous bus fares. Hehe.

March 8, 2014 at 6:26 pm
(9) gretchen says:

I walk about 5 to 6 miles plus 45 min in gym how long before I see weight loss as of right now I just get really sore

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