How Far Can a Healthy Person Walk in a Day?

The answer depends on whether you are a beginner or experienced

Woman walking outside

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

How many miles you can walk in a day, or how far a healthy and fit person could walk continuously in eight hours, is a question that can come up when planning an adventure trek. Another situation that could require it is walking unexpectedly due to transportation breakdowns in a natural disaster or personal emergency.

A trained walker can do a 26.2-mile marathon in eight hours or less, or walk 20 to 30 miles in a day. But the average person only walks 2 to 2.5 miles a day.

Estimate Your Walking Distance

While your body is made for walking, the distance you can achieve at an average walking pace of 3.1 miles per hour depends on whether you have trained for it or not. Steadily building your mileage with training allows you to walk long distances with less risk of injury.

Beginning Walkers

Untrained walkers can complete a two-hour, 6-mile walk at an easy pace, usually with no ill effects. The evidence for this comes from charity walks and American Volkssport Association's non-competitive 10-kilometer walks.

People who have not done any dedicated walking usually complete these walks with no problems, although many discover they need better walking shoes.

The average person should walk at least 7,000 steps per day, or 3.1 miles, to improve health and lower mortality risk.

Trained Walkers

But how far could a fit, trained person walk in eight hours? With training, many walkers can finish a 26.2-mile walker-friendly marathon in about seven hours, with no breaks. That suggests that If a walker is well-trained and takes breaks, they can walk 20 miles in a day.

If a walker doesn't take breaks and is going fast, they may be able to cover 30 miles in a day. They would need to steadily build mileage over the course of three to six months prior to doing a long-distance walk.

Walkers on the month-long Camino de Santiago trek in Spain typically walk 12 to 20 miles per day on terrain that includes many hills.

Advanced Walkers

Are you planning an advanced walk for eight hours day after day, such as on a walk across the continent or walking the Camino de Santiago? You need to train, or you will endure blisters, chafing, muscle aches and even stress fractures.

Unfortunately, you will see advice on forums for Camino walkers that it is fine to start the trek untrained, with the theory that "the Camino will train you." This is poor advice—an untrained trekker will be miserable and may even have to stop due to injury.

Train to Build Mileage

It's important to build up mileage steadily rather than leaping from no walking to walking for four hours straight. In training to walk a 13.1-mile half-marathon or 26-mile marathon, you walk a long distance every week, and increase the length of that walk by 1 mile a week or 2 miles every two weeks.

Twelve miles may have seemed very difficult the first time you reached that distance. But six weeks later when you are walking 18-mile days, the first 12 miles are easy and no strain at all.

Tips for Long Walks

Whether you are taking a planned or an unplanned long walk, there are steps you can take to make the effort more comfortable.

Manage Blisters and Chafing

Blisters on the toes, heels, and ball of the foot happen where your shoes and socks rub you the wrong way. You may also develop chafing at the armpits, under the breasts, and in the crotch as sweat forms gritty salt crystals. Using a lubricant can help protect the skin, and you can toughen the skin of your feet by steadily building up your walking time.

Select your most comfortable pair of sneakers, or in foul weather, your best trail shoes or comfortable boots. Don't try anything new for your first long walk. Use cornstarch in your socks to help keep your feet dry. A little petroleum jelly on your toes and heels can also help prevent blisters. Select synthetic or wool socks rather than cotton socks—they will help wick away sweat and help prevent blisters.

Layer Your Clothing

Choose a sweat-wicking inner layer of polyester, not cotton. Select an insulating layer such as a wool shirt, polyester fleece vest or shirt, or a down vest if temperatures are cool. Bring a windproof outer layer.

These three layers can see you through most conditions, either on a mountain or in the urban jungle. You will want to be able to add or remove a layer as you heat up or cool down. Other essentials include a hat, a good backpack or waist pack, a water bottle, sunscreen, and lip protection.

Carry Your Stuff

A purse or briefcase will alter your posture if you carry it for more than a few minutes. For any distance walking, look for a backpack that will allow you to carry your stuff securely while maintaining good walking posture. A backpack with a waist belt distributes the load at your center of gravity, where nature intended it to be.

Lighten up as much as possible. If you only have a few items to carry, put them in a waist pack or in the pockets of your jacket or pants.

Plan for Food and Hydration

Have a big glass of water 90 minutes before you walk. That will give your body good starting hydration and time to eliminate any extra. As you walk, have a cup of water every half hour. When you finish your walk, have another tall glass of water.

Before your walk, have a small balanced meal of protein and carbs. If you are sensitive to lactose, avoid milk products before a walk. You don't want to start on empty, but you don't want too much food jostling around in your stomach as you walk. Have a small snack after two hours if you go on a very long walk.

Make Safety a Priority

Take extra precautions if you will be walking in the dark. Your walking trip may extend from dusk till dawn. You will want to wear reflective clothing and light-colored clothing. Take precautions as vehicles are less likely to see you. Carry a small flashlight.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Paluch AE, Gabriel KP, Fulton JE, et al. Steps per day and all-cause mortality in middle-aged adults in the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e2124516. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24516

  3. American Academy of Dermatology. How to prevent and treat blisters.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.