How Far a Healthy Person Can Walk With No Training

Woman walking
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You may look at an upcoming 10K, half marathon, or marathon and wonder if you could just jump in and complete it without any training. Perhaps a friend or family member is urging you to join them even though you don't regularly walk for fitness. Just how far can a healthy person walk with no training?

Reasonable Walking Distances

Data has been gathered from the experience of walking clubs who host 10K (6.2-mile) volkssport walking events. During these events, countless untrained walkers come and enjoy a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) volkssport walk. Often, they are friends and family members of walkers who participate regularly. These people survive with no ill effects, except for some who develop blisters and some who may be sore for the next day or two.

Data gathered at walking events suggests that you can probably walk 5 to 7 miles if you are a healthy person without diabetes, heart disease, or orthopedic problems. That is approximately 9 to 11 kilometers or a walk of about two hours at a steady pace.

How Far Is Too Far?

Most people whose feet are not prepared by being toughened up on previous walks will have blisters by 10 or 12 miles. If you are going to walk more than 6 miles, you should steadily increase the longest mileage by 1 mile per week or 2 miles every two weeks. The general rule of thumb for exercise is to increase your total weekly distance or exertion by 10 percent per week. That will lessen your risk of getting an injury.

An untrained person should not enter a half-marathon or marathon unless they begin to train seriously three months in advance for a half-marathon and nine months ahead for a marathon.

Special Health Considerations

People with a medical condition should discuss their plans with their healthcare provider before participating in a walking event or starting a training plan. Those with diabetes need to use extra caution. Discuss management of blood sugar levels and concerns regarding foot care with your provider.

If you have diabetes, blisters must be avoided through the use of lubricants, pads, and sweat-wicking socks. The good news is that walking is recommended for exercise with diabetes and is part of healthy living with the condition.

Training for Fitness Walking

Walking for six miles in two hours is farther than recommended for beginner walkers who are starting to walk for exercise. It is better to start with a shorter walk and build up your time gradually.

Beginner's Walking Schedule

It is wise to start with a 15-minute to 30-minute walk each day and build up from there. A beginner's walking schedule would add five to 10 minutes to the walking session time per week. If you have no strain at all when you walk for 30 minutes, you can try increasing your longest walk of the week to 45 minutes and then even an hour. From there, you can continue to build up your walking time by adding 15-30 minutes more to the longest walking session each week.

Fitness Walking Events

If you plan to participate in a charity walk or another type of fitness walking event, follow one of these walking training plans:

  • Training Schedule for a 5K Walk: This is a popular distance for charity walks and it takes only about an hour (or less) to walk 5K (3.1 miles). By training, you can ensure you have enough stamina so you enjoy the walk.
  • Training Schedule for a 10K Walk: This is a popular fun run distance and the standard volkssport walk distance. After a few weeks, you can build up to enjoy this distance at a good pace.

Marathon and Half Marathon Walks

Training for a marathon or half-marathon includes first developing a fitness base by regularly walking and exercising. Then you add a long distance workout once per week and increase that distance by 1 mile per week or 2 miles every two weeks. You will need to pay attention to energy snacks and hydration on your long workouts.

A Word From Verywell

Humans were built for walking, and if you are healthy and a moderately active person, you don't have to be afraid of walking for an hour or two once in a while. But if you're invited to join in an event, it's a good idea to know how far you're being asked to walk and how long it's likely to take at your usual pace. Then you can prepare and do some training beforehand.

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  1. Neporent L. Fitness Walking For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons; 2011.