Motivate Yourself to Walk More With the Walk the Distance App

woman hiking in mountains

Susumu Yoshioka

The free Walk The Distance app is based on the Virtual Walk app and is available for both iOS and Android. It tracks your walking via the accelerometer in your phone and uses your step count to take you on a virtual walk and show you the sights you would see on that route.

Even if you are just circling your neighborhood, on the high school track, or plodding away on the treadmill, you can be walking the Appalachian Trail or taking a historical tour of Washington, D.C. Liven up your treadmill session or local walking route by virtually exploring some of the most picturesque global walking trails and destinations.

How Walk the Distance Works

Walk the Distance—as well as its predecessor app, Virtual Walk—helps you visualize your walking route along the Appalachian Trail, national parks, and other notable routes throughout the country. Keep motivation high and your fitness goals in mind as you log miles and cover major distances, physically and virtually.

The Walk the Distance app syncs up with your phone's Health app or Google Fit (on iOS and Android, respectively) on an hourly basis and logs your mileage throughout the day. As you walk and the steps add up, Walk the Distance will track your distance on free walks throughout cities and even marathon routes.

Virtual Walk Routes

Take to the Appalachian Trail, the Boston Marathon route, New York City's Central Park, or other destination walks to compete with friends and reach virtual checkpoints. The app is designed to help you meet markers along the route and walk alongside friends, all while enjoying the views and sights of faraway walks.

The app features free walks for the Appalachian Trail, select marathon routes, cities, and national parks. Additional walks are available for $0.99.

Walk the Distance Pros and Cons

Using a virtual walk app is a great way to motivate your fitness walking. It can be very compelling to try to reach the next point of interest by putting in another mile or two.

You can feel the achievement of walking the length of the Appalachian Trail without the need to carry a backpack and use trekking poles (although you may want to do that for authenticity). The screenshots also show a virtual Boston Marathon, which is probably the only way a walker will be able to do the race due to the qualifying times.

Since your phone's accelerometer is the primary measurement of movement, and your phone's health app is the main tracker of steps and miles walked, any wrong measurements will affect how far Walk the Distance has tracked. For example, if you set your phone down near your treadmill rather than carrying it as you walk, your mile count will be affected.

More Virtual Walk Apps

There are several other virtual walking apps on the market, so you can find one that works best for you. Treadmill Trails (available for iOS) and BitGym (available for iOS and Android) each include a library of scenic videos you can watch while logging miles on the treadmill.

World Walking (on iOS and Android) and My Virtual Mission (on iOS and Android) help users start fitness challenges, monitor their progress, and see the world by tracking walks on a map.

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  1. Higgins J. Smartphone applications for patients' health and fitness. Am J Med. 2016;129(1):11-19. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.05.038