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Some occupations involve plenty of walking. Think of construction workers, production floor managers, janitors, stock clerks, mechanics, tour guides, etc.

It's possible to exceed 10,000 steps at work. Assuming 100 steps per minute, that's over 100 minutes of walking. Running cadence is nearly double that. It looks like the equivalent of over 4 hours of running (8 hours of walking) if the person works five days a week. Four hours of running at 10 km/h would be 40 km. If the person bikes to work, there would be even more easy mileage. Recovery and injury prevention are important too.

For a person who's training for a race, should they be focusing on interval training since the job and possibly commute already has plenty of easy mileage?

Updates It's known that people tend to do their easy days too hard because actually running easy feels too easy to be beneficial or a good workout. Those who do polarized training spend around 90% of their exercise time at an easy pace. My understanding is that the walking at work also counts as recovery exercise.

Maybe one argument is that 10,000 steps spread out all day has a different effect compared to having it done all in one go.

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    Very interesting question. In some ironman training literature, they say that there is no such thing as a recovery run, as due to the nature of running (impact with ground etc) it is always too hard. However, to gain the benefits of the high volume low intensity side of polarised training, the walking at work would probably have to be continuous and not spread out. – Andy P Apr 17 at 12:58
  • @AndyP Is that because spreading the walking out exercises our fast twitch muscles less? Maybe it's more complicated because active jobs tend to include all day standing, walking up the stairs and standing burns more calories so it should burn more compared to one who exercises before work and sit all day. – Han-Lin Apr 19 at 17:44
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As a person who is decently fit and regularly walks 10,000 steps or so at work (often while carrying or pushing something), the answer is no. Walking doesn’t drain me of stamina at all, it simply doesn’t ask very much of the body.

Jogging, even at a slow pace, expends significantly more energy than walking. The faster you go, the more energy your body will expend (not linearly either it’s more quadratic in nature). Going from 5mph to 10mph isn’t twice as hard, it’s much more than that.

Walking does nothing to improve my cardiovascular endurance or running performance. I need to specifically train those things to improve them. Resistance training for your lower body, sprinting, long jogs - these things will help improve your performance in a race. Walking has its benefits, but improved race performance isn’t one of them.

  • You must be pretty energetic after work. Couldn't the walking count as easy running on recovery days? When you look at the recovery training HR zone, you'll see that it's close to that of walking. If it's too low, couldn't we walk faster? If it really does work, then most of the leisure time workouts should be intense, or cross training. – Han-Lin Apr 16 at 4:24
  • That may be true for walking at slower speeds. You're probably saying that 50,000 steps per week is equivalent to nearly 2 hours of running, maybe even less if we consider other factors. fellrnr.com/wiki/File:Energy_cost_and_transition_Distance.jpg – Han-Lin Apr 17 at 5:38

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