Kick Off Summer with a Fun Fitness Challenge

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
Editor's Note: We are thrilled to be teaming up with Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer and YouTube fitness star, to bring you the #5MileChallenge! Read on for Jessica's explanation of the challenge, and get ready to lace up your walking shoes on June 1st. See you on the road (or track, or trail, or even in your living room with a walking DVD!).

Whether you are just starting to build your fitness habit or are a more advanced exerciser, a regular walking program offers so many incredible health and fitness benefits. That's why I am so excited to be teaming up with SparkPeople to bring you this fun #5MileChallenge! 
 
Our goal is to help you stay more active when you are not already working out, or to get you moving more often to spark up a new exercise habit. Even if you have been exercising routinely for years, it may not be enough to combat the ill effects of hours of sitting, which is why adding more steps to your day is beneficial for everyone (just check out these scary sitting stats!).
 
The #5MileChallenge plan can be combined with your existing workout routine, or it can become the basis of a new exercise plan (see details below on how to best adjust it to meet your needs and current fitness level). And the best part is, the #5MileChallenge is FREE and easy to do! You won't need any special equipment to join in--just a comfortable pair of walking shoes. 
 
Here's how the #5MileChallenge works:
 
Starting June 1st, fit in your 5 miles with us and the SparkPeople #5MileChallenge Community over the next 30 days.
 
Find which description below best fits you and follow the appropriate mileage recommendations:
 
Just starting out? 
Aim for 1 mile, 5 days a week (5 miles a week total).
 
Been walking, but not as consistently as you'd like? Or, do you exercise regularly, but need to add more steps to your sedentary day? 

Aim for about 2.5 miles a day, 6 days a week OR 3 miles a day, 5 days a week (15 miles a week total).
 
Are you a pro walker? Do you love getting in 10,000 steps a day? 
Aim for 5 miles of walking a day (roughly 10,000 steps), 6 days a week (30 miles a week total).
 
Of course, we encourage you to always listen to your body and make adjustments. If these suggestions feel like too much or not enough, add or subtract miles to find the perfect fit for your personal needs!
 
You can measure your miles a couple of ways:
 
By Time - 15 minutes at a brisk pace = roughly 1 mile*
 
By Steps - We're counting 10,000 steps as the approximate equivalent of 5 miles, so count 2,000 steps as 1 mile*.
 
*For the sake of this challenge we're using these estimated (though not exact) measurements as our guide. Keep in mind everyone's stride lengths differ; exact mileage may vary by individual.
 
Here are 5 Great Ways to Fit in Your #5MileChallenge:
 
#1: Designate a safe, 1 mile loop around your neighborhood or office.
Track the mileage with your car (or similar device) to figure out a safe 1-mile walking path and then take regular walk breaks throughout your day to increase your daily steps.
 
#2: Wear an activity tracker. 
A pedometer or the Spark Activity Tracker can be helpful tools to keep track of your daily step count and stay on the path to reach your goals. Be sure to designate a few times throughout your day to check in with your tracking device to keep you on target and avoid having to play catch-up at the end of the day.
 
#3: Use walking DVDs.
Don't let bad weather or unsafe walking conditions keep you from getting in your miles! Try a few indoor walking DVDs to help you rack up your daily step count safely. They may even help you stay more motivated, too--one study found that watching other people exercise helps stimulate your brain's impulse to mimic others, so you may even walk further, faster with a video! Check out our brand new "Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles" for a DVD that's tailor-made for this #5MileChallenge!
 
#4: Set a reminder timer.
When life gets busy, it's easy to forget to keep walking. Try setting an hourly timer to remind you to get up and walk for 5-10 minutes throughout the day. One study found that walking for just 5 minutes out of every sedentary hour was enough to combat the dangers of prolonged sitting, but feel free to aim for more if you can fit in it! 
 
#5: Check in with other challengers!
Having a group to support you is a great way to stay motivated and accountable, so be sure to check in with your fellow #5MileChallenge teammates during the program! Seeing other people reaching their daily step goals may keep you more motivated to reach your own. You can check in with us here on this page in the comments below or on social media (don't forget to use the hashtag #5MileChallenge and tag @JESSICASMITHTV and @SparkPeople) so that we can cheer you on! 
 
For more great ideas on how to fit in your daily steps, check out this post from Coach Nicole.
 
Want to get the most out of your #5MileChallenge? Use these helpful challenge tips as a guide: 
 
#1: Cross train with resistance exercise 2-4 days a week.
Unless you already have a regular strength-training routine, you are going to want to add in some resistance training to your walking program since strong muscles help support your joints and boost your stamina while you stride. If you need a good home workout option, try my 30-Minute Resistance Band Workout, or if you are new to exercise and don't have any equipment on hand, this 15-Minute Bodyweight Basics routine is a great place to start. Beginners can aim for 2 non-consecutive days a week while more advanced exercisers may want to add up to 4 weekly strength sessions.
 
#2: Give your walking muscles some love.
Strength training is important, but you'll also want to focus on stretching and strengthening the key walking muscles found in your feet, ankles and surrounding your knees and hips. Keep your walking muscles strong and flexible by including a few of these exercises for your feet in your weekly routine and/or follow along with our "Strong Feet and Ankles" and "Strong Knees and Hips" workouts found in our new DVD, "Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles."
 
#3: Mix up your mileage. 
Keep things interesting and avoid overuse injuries by mixing up your walking techniques--try side steps, high knee marches, even walking backwards (only in safe areas and very carefully, of course) to mix up your miles each day! You'll work more muscles that way and keep your body and mind actively engaged (walking DVDs can help provide you with some ideas to try on your own).
 
#4: Take active rest days.
When you aren't pounding the pavement, stay active with other activities that complement your walks such as stretching, light swimming or cycling. While it's important to give your body some time off of walking each week, you can still stay in motion while you recharge and recover. Gentle stretching or other alternative, low-intensity activities can help prevent stiffness and soreness.
 
#5: Boost your burn.

Simple things like maintaining good posture, pumping your arms and adding in speed intervals can all help boost your calorie burn while you walk. Skip holding dumbbells or wearing wrist or ankle weights, though, as they can cause joint strain. If you want to add weight to your walk, consider wearing a weighted vest, which adds the extra poundage where your body can handle it--at your core--instead. 
 
The #5MileChallenge officially Kicks off on June 1st, 2015. Please leave us a comment below and let us know if you will joining our team for the program!
 
Remember, if you use social media, use the hashtag #5MileChallenge and tag us (@JESSICASMITHTV and @SparkPeople) to check in with us via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
 
And I'd love to walk with you during the challenge too! Please check out my line of fun and effective fitness walking DVDs here on Amazon.com for more mileage options.
 
They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! Let's start walking, #5MileChallenge members!


About the Author

As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit jessicasmithtv.com/shop to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.


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Comments

SHARON_NC52 5/18/2019
I am committed to joining. I will get my new walking shoes hopefully next week. Report
LTHRASH4 1/26/2019
Oh, yes I'm going to do the 5milechallenge. Report
Yay!! Looking forward to joining this challenge and making it happen!!! Gotta love that Jessica Smith. Report
Yes is this for 2018???? Report
Is this challenge running this year Report
Is this running in June 2018 THIS YEAR. Everything is dated 2015 Report
Are they doing the challenge again in 2018? I'm interested but as this was in 2015 I wasn't sure if it was still happening... Report
Can't wait to join the 5 mile challenge this summer 2018.....got plenty of months to prepare my mind and body. Report
SUZENNA
Thank you Report
I'm in a little late but I am a seasoned walker

Thu, Jun 1, 14,222
Fri, Jun 2, 17,380
Sat Jun 3, 12,908
Sun Jun 4, 10,884
Mon Jun 5, 15,001
Tues Jun 6, 12,590
Wed. Jun 07, 17,011
Thu. June 8, 13,936
Fri. Jun 9, 10,218
Sat Jun 10, 11,125
Sun Jun 11, 15,376
Mon Jun 12, 13,768
Tues Jun 13, 14,924
Wed Jun 14, 10,887
Thu Jun 15,13,863
Fri Jun 16, 13,584
Sat Jun 17, 14,226
Sun Jun 18, 8,565
Mon Jun 19, 13,959
Tue Jun 20, 12,344
Wed Jun 21,16,285
Thu Jun 22, 16,204
Fri Jun 23, 13,704
Sat Jun 24 14,052
Sun Jun 25 9,407
Mon Jun 26 12,895
Tue Jun 27 12,387 Report
WAZZIE71
Just did the video! I am aiming right now to regularly get 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day and work my way up to 10,000! Have a great _day! Report
WAZZIE71
Just did the video! I am aiming right now to regularly get 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day and work my way up to 10,000! Have a great _day! Report
Wow finished up the challenge with challenges, but woohoo! Day 30:5.65 miles miles!! Day 29: Dr appts 3.5, Day 28 Rest day, Day 27 4.65 miles (batteries oops in pedometer, this is best guess), Day 26, 4.5 Miles, Day 25 & Day 24 5 miles each Report
Finished the month with 419,831 steps altogether, for a daily average of 13,994. Yowza! Report
Last day of this challenge was 15,781 steps. Being part of a team was great. It encouraged me to keep moving. Report
Well.....Logging in for the last time! 2 days worth, Day 29: 11,363 steps, 5.13 miles and the final Day 30: 11,400 steps, 5.54 miles. It's been a wonderful journey. I don't think I will be able to stop at 30 days. I feel so much better and stronger. I sleep pretty darn good at night too!! Thank you for the challenge, Jessica. Report
KAYTEETOO
Thank you for this challenge, it's made me much more consistent with my walking. To finish up: Day 29 - 10516, Day 30 11386. I hope I can keep it going now! Report
JESSICASMITHTV
Congrats to all of our #5MileChallenge Team Members out there! I've loved being a part of this walking group this month and hope you all have too :) Thank you so much for joining me and let's do this again soon! Keep up the great work everybody! Report
Day 28 - 7217 steps. Day 29 - 11,418 steps. This has been a great challenge. It made me look for ways to be more active. I am feeling great. I definitely have more energy! I am going to keep this momentum going. I am looking forward to the Summer Of Strength Challenge starting July 6th on JessicaSmith TV. Report
Saturday was a rest day. Yesterday did an hour on the rowing machine. Back to walking today, with 11,243 steps. Report
JESSICASMITHTV
Thanks for walking with us TAJONES57! How is everybody feeling #5milechallenge team?? I can't believe this month is almost over already. What are some positive changes you've noticed from this challenge? I have definitely been feeling more energetic :) Report
Logging in for day 28: 11,983 steps ,5.09 miles. Report
KAYTEETOO
Day 27 9900 steps, and a very active day overall, so I'm happy with that. Day 28 barely made it over 5000. I'm going to count it as a rest day :-) Report
Day 27: 11,707 steps, 5.25 miles. Report
Day 27 - 13,459 steps Report
1.7 MILES 6/26
1.77 miles 6/27
its been over a 100 not used to that kind weather Report
I was so tired last night I fell asleep and didn't check in. I even slept in this morning. Anyway day 26: 12,174 steps , 5.63 miles. Report
The past few days, I have been doing the 5 Fat Burning Miles DVD.I love this DVD. I customize my workout making sure I accomplish 10,000 steps. I had a good day today. I was able to do a little extra, making today my best day in steps.
Day 26 - 14,041 steps. Report
JESSICASMITHTV
Love that strategy for sneaking in extra steps KAYTEETOO! It isn't always easy to find ways to walk more at work but you are a great example of how getting creative can help - nice job! Checking in here with 9,702 steps for the day so far. Keep up the great work #5MileChallenge team.. can't believe we're almost done with this challenge. Report
KAYTEETOO
Day 25: 14324! I think that's my record for the month :-)
Day 26: I had to switch to a printer at the far end of the office, and made it to 10000 steps without any extra walking! Maybe that's a strategy for the future. Although the other team might wonder why I keep using their printer :-D Report
Yesterday, 13,476 steps. 7.8 miles. Report
Day 25: 11,571 steps, 5.43 miles. I'm with SparkFran 514, I hope after we have completed the challenge we will continue with our goals and stay motivated!! Report
Day 25 - 12,103 steps Report
I hope you have something planned for the July to keep us going on our walking steak . Report
# summer walking challenge i have been counting the miles I see now that most are reporting steps . to late now to change so i going to continue reporting my miles 2 miles so far today will wait until it cools down and try to add 2 miles. Report
JESSICASMITHTV
Happy Thursday #5MileChallenge Team! Checking in here with 11,920 steps so far for the day. Let's keep this momentum moving :-) Great job everybody! Report
6/24: 15,787 steps and 45 minutes on the rowing machine. Report
KAYTEETOO
Day 23: 13014!! including Jessica's Cardio barefoot flow :-)
Day 24: 10081. I didn't think I would make it but I did! Report
Day 24 - 12,054 steps Report
Day 24: 11,144 steps and 5.17 miles. Report
JESSICASMITHTV
Hi #5MileChallenge Team! You are doing such a great job! Checking in today with 12,165 steps so far today :-) Let's keep walking through this week! Report
Its June 24 as of 6/23 I have walked 63.28 miles this month !!! many not make my goal but i will be close. its been a great challenge going to continue it my self in July. Report
I didn't make my goal again yesterday June 23. I got 6,422, so better than the day before and all wasn't lost because I did do one of Jessica's 20 minute workouts. www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP3ni7dKbtM
&feature=youtu.be&list=PLe5P3ayTEj7
ZKkJ-BrGtXxMi_8bDXC2N3
Report
Day 23: 14,612. Gonna be less today, since I'll be rowing instead of walking, but I'll still shoot for 10k. Report
Day #23 - 11,031 steps. Day started off slow and I did not think I was going to make the 10,000 steps, but doing 3 of the 5 Fat Burning Miles Workouts helped me accomplish the challenge. Report
Checking in for Day 23: 11,445 steps........5.26 miles. Being part of a team is a new experience for me and it's working great. I don't think I would have made it this far on my own. Report
Day 22: 12,774 steps 5.24 miles. Belly Buns Thighs and Posture Walk. Feel more energetic but tired at end of day, how to keep pace going after challenge? Want to, but afraid of slipping back to sedentary. Report
JESSICASMITHTV
Love to hear that TAJONES57! And how neat that you may have found a new class at your community center during your walk KAYTEETOO! Keep up the great work #5MileChallenge team - you are all so inspiring! Checking in over here with 12,756 steps so far for the day. Let's keep on walking! Report
I didn't get my steps in yesterday June 22, I only got 5,367 steps. Hope to do better today! Report
13,436 yesterday, plus 30 minutes on the rowing machine. The rowing is a heck of a workout! Right up there with the elliptical.

Now if you don't mind, I need to curl up and whimper. Report