Walking is one of the most accessible and beneficial forms of exercise. It requires no equipment, can be done almost anywhere and has numerous health advantages. One question that often comes up regarding walking is how long it takes to walk certain distances. This article will provide a thorough overview of how long it takes the average person to walk 4 miles.
Factors That Impact Walking Speed
When determining how long it will take to walk 4 miles, there are several key factors that impact average walking speed. These include:
- Fitness Level – A person’s overall fitness level can greatly affect walking pace. Highly trained walkers and runners will walk 4 miles much faster than sedentary individuals.
- Age – Age can influence speed, with younger people generally able to walk faster than senior citizens.
- Terrain – The type of terrain being walked on impacts pace. Walking on a track or paved trail is faster than natural surfaces. Hills also slow people down.
- Body Weight – Carrying excess body weight demands more energy and decreases speed.
- Walking Motivation – Whether someone is walking for leisure or trying to reach a destination in a set time can alter speed.
- Distractions – Things like talking on the phone, checking a device or sightseeing can reduce walking speed.
Average Walking Speed Statistics
Many studies have collected data to determine the average human walking speed in various conditions. Some key statistics include:
- Average casual walking speed on smooth, flat surfaces is about 3 to 4 mph.
- Active walkers generally average closer to 4 mph during longer walks.
- Running speed starts at about 5 mph.
- Average walking speeds decline roughly 20% when moving from pavement to soft surfaces like grass or sand.
- Fit adults walk about 10-15% faster than children or elderly individuals in the same conditions.
- There is around a 45-second difference per mile between the pacing of a tall person versus a short person.
- Carrying a load weighting 10% of body weight reduces average speed by 5%. Heavy backpacks have an even more substantial impact.
All of these factors influence how fast someone can walk 4 miles.
How Fitness Level Impacts Walking Pace for 4 Miles
Fitness level is a significant contributor to how quickly it takes someone to walk 4 miles. A moderate fitness level capable of walking 4 miles without discomfort is around 3.5 to 4 mph.
Here is a comparison of approximates paces at different fitness levels:
- Highly Trained Walker/Runner – 17-20 minutes per mile, roughly 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes for 4 miles
- Active Adult Walker – 20-25 minutes per mile, about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes for 4 miles
- Casual Adult Walker – 25-35 minutes per mile, around 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes for 4 miles
- Out-of-Shape Adult – 35-45 minutes per mile, roughly 2 hours 20 minutes to 3 hours for 4 miles
As you can see, a regular runner or racewalker can complete 4 miles over twice as fast as an inactive person. This shows the massive impact cardiovascular endurance has on walking pace.
Impact of Walking Terrain
The type of surface being walked on also plays a key role in 4 mile walk time. Average walking paces on different common terrains are:
- Road/Paved Trail – 3 to 4 mph
- Treadmill – 3 to 3.5 mph
- Grass – 2.5 to 3 mph
- Sand – 2 to 2.5 mph
- Forest Trail – 2 to 2.5 mph
- Hilly Trail – 1.5 to 2 mph
So while a fit person may be able to walk 4 miles on pavement in around an hour, tackling the same distance on an uneven forest trail could take closer to 2 hours.
Age Differences in Walking Pace
Age is another vital factor related to walking speed over long distances. Here is how average adult walking paces tend to vary by age on flat, paved surfaces:
- 20-30 years old – 3.5 to 4 mph
- 30-50 years old – 3 to 3.5 mph
- 50-65 years old – 2.8 to 3 mph
- 65-80 years old – 2 to 2.5 mph
- 80+ years old – 1.5 to 2 mph
Of course there are always exceptions based on an individual’s fitness levels, but these statistics provide general paces for different age groups. For 4 miles on a typical road or trail, a 25 year old may finish in around 1 hour 20 minutes compared to 1 hour 40 minutes for a 65 year old.
Walking Techniques that Increase Pace
If your goal is to walk 4 miles faster, there are certain techniques you can utilize to train your body to walk more efficiently:
- Power Walking – Pumping your arms back and forth in exaggerated motions helps propel your body. Lifting the knees higher also engages muscles.
- Rhythmic Breathing – Inhaling and exhaling steadily in sync with your stepping helps maintain rhythm.
- Proper Posture – Keeping your gaze forward, shoulders back and core tight prevents slouching and fatigue.
- Stride Work – Taking longer strides where the heel of your front foot lands near the toe of the back engages your glutes and propels you forward more quickly.
- Staying Relaxed – Consciously releasing tension in your shoulders, face and grip helps conserve energy for moving forward.
Mastering these biomechanics through practice allows people to walk faster with less effort. Implementing them during 4 mile walks helps cut down time.
Additional Factors that Impact 4 Mile Walk Times
Beyond physiology and terrain, there are some additional factors that can influence how long it takes someone to walk 4 miles. These include:
Clothing/Footwear – Wearing restrictive or uncomfortable shoes/pants that limit range of motion slows most people down over long distances. Proper layering for the weather is also essential.
Steep Hills – Occasional gradual hills generally don’t impact pace significantly, but routes with very steep/long inclines will substantially reduce speed and increase walk times.
Crossing Streets – Navigating extra traffic lights or waiting for cars while crossing roads causes intermittent stopping that adds minutes onto a 4 mile walk.
Poor Surfaces – Old cracked sidewalks, very rocky trails or slippery surfaces raise injury risk and force slower speeds.
Equipment – Pushing strollers or carts, wearing backpacks or holding items in your hands hampers free arm swinging and slows pacing.
Motivation Level – Mental fatigue or lack of motivation due to boredom or other distractions often translates to slower walking times.
Health Conditions – Existing injuries like sore knees or ankles raise difficulties taking longer/faster walks. Various illnesses also limit endurance for long distances.
All of these supplemental factors chip away at someone’s walking pace to some degree during a 4 mile trek. They are important to consider when estimating your time.
For a casual but healthy adult walker, walking 4 miles on a paved surface at a moderate pace should take between 1 hour 20 minutes and 1 hour 40 minutes. Speeds typically average 20-30 minutes per mile.
At a steady walking pace of 3 mph, it would take approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to walk 4 miles. This would be considered an average casual pace.
Brisk walking generally refers to speeds between 3-4 mph. At 4 mph, it would take exactly 1 hour to walk 4 miles. At 3.5 mph, it would take about 1 hour and 9 minutes. Brisk speeds reflect active walkers with decent fitness.
Walking each mile in 17-20 minutes per mile equates to average speeds between 3 and 3.5 mph. This would be considered a robust pace reflective of highly fit walkers, athletes or racewalkers. Completing 4 miles at this pace would take between 1 hour 5 minutes and 1 hour 20 minutes.
Typically, average walking speed decreases about 20% by age 65 compared to younger adults. At a pace of 2 to 2.5 mph, common for 65+ walkers, it would take between 1 hour 40 minutes and 2 hours to complete a 4 mile walk.
Steep hills can reduce average walking speed by 45% to 60% on the inclines while increasing effort and fatigue. This could add 30 minutes or more onto a 4 mile walk, putting completion times closer to 2 hours for casual walkers.
In the end, how long it takes to walk 4 miles depends substantially on your natural walking pace. Pace is determined by a combination of health, age, fitness level, terrain, technique, gear, motivation and other extraneous factors. For a trained runner on pavement, 4 miles may take around an hour. Meanwhile, an elderly person tackling hills or rough trails may need three hours to cover the same distance. Understanding your unique pace and abilities and using techniques tailored to your needs, allows you to better estimate required times for walking set mileages.