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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Walking 5+ miles

   
Author Topic: Walking 5+ miles
Dr Strangelove
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My father and I went for a day hike a couple of days ago (through miserable pine and palmetto scrub, but that's another story) and we covered about 15 miles in an afternoon (11 - 5). Along the way, we started pondering what percentage of people (lets say Americans in order to limit the pool) have walked or jogged 5 or more miles continuously. From my own admittedly small pool of people I know, quite a few have. But I also tend to hang around people who hike.

We figure that people who are or were in the military likely have. Also, people who have run 10k's or longer. And of course hikers. Is there any other obvious group of people that I'm missing? And more importantly, how many people actually fall in to those categories? Who here has walked or jogged more than 5+ miles continuously for any reason?

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TomDavidson
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Boy Scouts, who are perhaps a subset of your "hikers" group.
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LargeTuna
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Well, I done that on the high school track team.


And then I've also hiked a small bit of the Appalachian trail on a trip with some friends.

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Hobbes
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I guess I don't really know but I find it hard to believe that there's many Americans who haven't done that, barring those with conditions that prohibit such activities (and I don't just mean 'being overweight'). Like you I spend time around people who hike but still. You're asking for people who haven't hiked or ran 5 miles continuously in their lives. Maybe now they find themselves too busy, or too out of shape but at some point this must've been an option. Even if it was just missing your ride and having to walk home from a fraternity party in the country at college or something.

Long walks aren't frequent, but I honestly believe it's a question of experience and expectations more than fitness. I'm not in great shape but I still routinely go for 20-30 mile hikes. When I try to take non-hikers with me I find that while they do get tired, and there's something to be said for building up some foot-based toughness, that's not the main issue. The issue is being able to mentally cope with doing nothing but hike all day long.

Hobbes [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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*nod* I would be surprised if the majority of Americans have not walked five miles at least once in their lives. Heck, I've done it at least twice simply as the consequence of a car problem. [Smile]
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Dan_Frank
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I concur with Tom and Hobbes. I used to hike, so there's that, but I did this once before the age of 10 when I missed my bus.

Oh, and so as not to disrupt the trend... [Smile]

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El JT de Spang
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I wouldn't say the majority have, but I wouldn't be surprised if greater than 30 0r 40% have.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
I wouldn't say the majority have, but I wouldn't be surprised if greater than 30 0r 40% have.

Really? You'd expect that 60% to 70% of Americans have never in their lives walke 5 miles.

I'd expect that at least 25% of Americans have walked 5 miles in the last year.

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TomDavidson
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At the end of the day, 5 miles is just not very far. A more interesting division, I think, would be 14 miles; at that distance, you wind up weeding out anybody who's walking by accident. [Smile]

(Full disclaimer: the most distance I've ever covered on foot in a day is 48 miles. And that was almost two decades ago. *blush*)

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katdog42
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In the book "A Walk in the Woods" (by no means scholarly, and I would never cite it for academic purposes), Bill Bryson notes that every 20 minutes, he hiked farther than most Americans do in an entire week (assuming he was hiking about 1 mile in those 20 minutes).

I regularly hike distances between 5 and 10 miles. I also jog daily between 2 and 5 miles, depending on my time.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by El JT de Spang:
I wouldn't say the majority have, but I wouldn't be surprised if greater than 30 or 40% have.

Really? You'd expect that 60% to 70% of Americans have never in their lives walke 5 miles.

I'd expect that at least 25% of Americans have walked 5 miles in the last year.

You don't live in America, do you?
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Strider
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I'm sometimes amazed at how people will hop in the car to drive 1/4 or 1/2 a mile. I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear that many people don't ever walk, run, or hike that kind of distance. Even people without their own transportation who have to use public transportation rarely walk 5 miles, and definitely not continuously.

Maybe we should change the conditions though to exclude the accidental walking of this sort of distance once or twice in someone's life.

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TomDavidson
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I freely admit that I will hop in the car to drive a half a mile if I'm in a hurry, going to be carrying things, or transporting children.
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Strider
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Well, I'm not arguing that there's never any reason to drive half a mile. Just pointing out that it's so natural to drive even short distances like that, that most people don't even consider the possibility of walking. And if that's the case, unless you have some very specific reason to walk 5 miles, I'm not surprised to hear that most people haven't.
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scholarette
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I don't know if I have walked 5 miles continuously. When I do workouts, it is usually 40 minutes, which for me isn't 5 miles. Just got back from Hong Kong and while I walked a lot, it might be walk for 30 minutes, take a bus, walk again, take a bus, walk, eat a meal, walk some more, stop at scenic site, sit, talk, take pics, walk again, etc. Once we were going more than a mile, we would hope on the metro. So in one day, yes. Continuous, no. In Houston, it is too hot to go that far and I simply don't have time. I am one of those people that will drive a quarter of a mile, but with little kids and the inevitable fight over the stroller and shoving and whining and shoe throwing (yes, that is an issue- in HK, we lost one shoe somewhere in the subway), it is easier just to put them in the car and drive. When I had just one, I would walk to the park and people would be surprised but the park is maybe a ten minute walk away. I have gone hiking but I don't know how long we have gone and that was a while ago (before baby 2). I probably have at some point done 5 miles continuous but I can't say 100% when or where.
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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
I'd expect that at least 25% of Americans have walked 5 miles in the last year.

Agreed. Some of this depends on who one tends to think about. A few other groups:

1. those who are poor, particularly in cities with less than adequate public transit or in rural areas
2. some travellers (lots of walking tours, backpackers)
3. many caregivers (I have pushed a wheelchair down the boardwalk and through more than 5 miles of street while on an outing more than once)

And, too, this:
quote:
Originally posted by Tom Davidson:
At the end of the day, 5 miles is just not very far.

4. lawnmowing large lots by hand -- this would just take about a 1050 feet by 420 feet lot, for a 2-foot wide lawnmower and no rest stop
5. I wonder about farming, particularly in areas farmed by hand

All told, I don't think it's that unusual.

quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
I'm sometimes amazed at how people will hop in the car to drive 1/4 or 1/2 a mile. ... Even people without their own transportation who have to use public transportation rarely walk 5 miles, and definitely not continuously.

I agree with you on the former, but I think there is a good chunk of urban and rural poor who find themselves on long hikes despite public transportation. Sometimes the options just aren't there. It's definitely where I was quite a few times in Rochester, NY, where major routes just quit on the weekends.

My husband and I go on 5 mile walks about 3 days a week, excepting the mornings I was jogging about 7 miles a day. I don't jog regularly now, and I miss it.

[ October 24, 2011, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: CT ]

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CT
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PS:That being said, I have no trouble believing there is a substantial percentage of Americans who have not walked or run continuously for 5 miles or more, and for various and sundry reasons, they may be more visible. So when we think of those people that may have or may not have, the more visible ones may be those who come most easily to mind.

---

Added: Heck, as a rural kid in a town with virtually no cheap public transport, we would hike 3 miles in late grade school just to get to a local historical site, or 4 miles to the library. Generally some of us would not have bikes (or at least, not ones that worked), so we all ended up walking.

Not that far every day, of course, but at least that far was a regular thing in the summers.

[ October 24, 2011, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: CT ]

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Xavier
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While it seems reasonable to assume I have at some point, coming up with one specific instance isn't easy for me. I used to go jogging a few times a week, but my path was just under 4 miles. Since I've moved, my routes are closer to 3 miles when I ever go.

However, assuming a 4 mile an hour average walking speed, that'd mean that this is just walking for just 1h 15m. Putting it that way, I'm absolutely sure I've gone on walks that took much longer than that.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by katdog42:
In the book "A Walk in the Woods" (by no means scholarly, and I would never cite it for academic purposes), Bill Bryson notes that every 20 minutes, he hiked farther than most Americans do in an entire week (assuming he was hiking about 1 mile in those 20 minutes).

Although I really enjoyed the book, Bryson is simply horribly wrong on this. Studies have been done equipping people with pedometers to actually measure the number of steps they take per day. The average for American men is ~7200 steps/day and for American women its ~5200 steps/day. There are 5280 feet per mile so the average American walks between 2 and 3 miles per day. Of course that's not continuous walking. Its also not nearly enough for your health. But all those little trips from the car park to the office, down the hall to the cafeteria, around the grocery store and so on do add up to a lot more than the mile a week Bryson presumes.

[ October 24, 2011, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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cloark
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Could Bryson's statistic have been limited to only long, continuous walks? I've read the book, and admittedly, the statistic is vague at best. While most Americans do walk over a mile each day, the majority probably don't go more than a mile in any single walk.

As for myself, I certainly haven't walked a consecutive mile in the last week, though that is atypical for me. I've done 5+ miles scores of times in my life, between hikes in the mountains and running.

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Belle
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Heck I'm a couch potato supreme and I can name several times I've hiked five miles.

So if I've done it...surely everyone has at some point or another!

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Could Bryson's statistic have been limited to only long, continuous walks? I've read the book, and admittedly, the statistic is vague at best.
From the context, I doubt it. I've seen similar statistics numerous times and my response is always incredulity that anyone could actully move that little. Even if you actually always have a parking space withing a few steps of your destination, you'd be hard pressed to take on 400 steps a day.
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Annie
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People I think are likely to have walked five miles or more, on more than one occasion:

• People who live in mountainy areas (I grew up in the Rocky Mountains and it was a very normal form of recreation)
• People of a lower SES

People I think are less likely to have:

• People who live in suburban areas where no one walks anywhere - it always surprises me when I meet these people but then again it probably surprises them to meet me.

So, all we have to do is figure out how many of each live in the US. But now it seems like figuring it in terms of the entire country is a very arbitrary decision. I think it would be much more informative to look at individual areas and social groups.

Anecdote time: my Mom moved to my Dad's hometown in Southeast Texas shortly after they were married. She was born and raised in Colorado and rather surprised by the cultural differences there. When I was born, she would take me on walks in the stroller each morning before it got too hot. Almost without fail, every single day one of my Dad's family members would drive by and offer her a ride. She was perplexed as to why they kept doing this even after she explained that she was walking on purpose. She slowly realized that they were concerned about the image she was giving everyone because in that part of the South, white women didn't walk. They were driven everywhere they needed to go. She was making the family look bad.

So of course, she continued to do it. [Smile]

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Shanna
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Its hard to find the motivation to go for walks when you live in the suburbs. I remembered noticing it when my parents moved to Louisiana. My dad tried to make it a habit for the family to bike together before dinner but I quickly became bored of pedaling past endless cookie-cutter houses and perfectly manicured lawns.

Around this time, I was in college where I started walking everywhere because the town was tiny. I had classes, food, pubs, coffee shops, and all my friends within a few blocks. Partying was infinitely more enjoyable when no one was stuck being the designated driver. As long as we were sober enough to walk, that's what we did. I was also dating a guy who would later move to New Orleans. I quickly realized that if I got in my car to drive to the pharmacy, I'd never be able to find a parking spot when I came back. So I walked to the movies, the park, the bank, etc. And with the combination of crumbling sidewalks and 100+ year old oak trees, it was closest things to mountain hiking we had. [Smile]

I'm still not a fan of "just walking." I'll do it on occasion, but I prefer having an end-goal in mind. Having walkable neighborhoods is now a HUGE check in the pro-column when it comes to picking places to live. If I have my way, I'll never go back to living in planned suburban communities where you can't get out except by car.

On a side note, I really need to strap a pedometer on one day and see how many miles I walk in an 8-hour day at the bookstore.

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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
Almost without fail, every single day one of my Dad's family members would drive by and offer her a ride. She was perplexed as to why they kept doing this even after she explained that she was walking on purpose.

Even without those cultural factors, this happens frequently--at every job I've had, co-workers have constantly offered to drive me to the bus stop. To them, walking is an inconvenience. Trying to explain that I deliberately set up my commute pattern to maximize the amount of walking I do is an exercise in frustration. (I do appreciate their offers, of course! I know they mean them well.)
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The Rabbit
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For the first time in my life, I regularly drive a car to work. I used to walk in but after there were several gun point robberies (one of which I witnessed) on our street, my husband started encouraging me to drive. He still walks in nearly all the time.

My husband hates being in the car, but even so every now and then when the weather's horrible or he's not feeling well, or its really late he appreciates a ride. So I offer him a ride frequently, even though I know he will usually prefer to walk, because sometimes he doesn't.

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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:
So of course, she continued to do it. [Smile]

[Cool]
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