Why you should be walking (at least) 30 minutes per day!

Do you walk for 30 minutes per day? Walking for just 30 minutes every day can give some amazing health benefits, help with weight loss, and improve mood. Why then do so many people have trouble fitting it into our schedules? The fact of the matter is that many of us spend so much time at work or school– or focusing on other responsibilities– that we don’t feel we have extra time to spare on leisurely activities by the time the day is through.

Couple on morning walking routine
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You may be surprised that most people have more free time on our hands than we think, though. While not everybody can manage to set aside a dedicated thirty-minute time slot each day for a walk, many of us can easily work in smaller strolls throughout the day to achieve that goal. Whether it’s a 30-minute stroll through the park in the morning or 3 10-minute walks during breaks, getting 30 minutes of walking in every day will meet your minimum exercise requirements and give some important health benefits!

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Why is Walking Thirty Minutes Per Day So Important?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us that physical activity encompasses any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. This means that walking falls very neatly into the category of physical activity. We’re supposed to be getting 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity (like brisk walking) in per week. Broken up over the course of seven days, that comes out to around 20 minutes per day; or 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. For most of us, 30 minutes per day should be the minimum starting point of our walking workout.

Senior couple walking for fitness in the park
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Maintaining this level of physical activity is critical to our health. Humans have not evolved to be sedentary and healthy simultaneously; the HHS tells us explicitly that we should be moving more and sitting less over the course of any given day. Walking is an excellent opportunity to get your daily physical activity in because it’s:

  • Accessible
  • Low-impact
  • Easy to work into a schedule
  • Something that we already do daily

The Benefits

Happy walkers high fiving on a bridge
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Walking for thirty minutes per day gives numerous, important health benefits. That half an hour of time dedicated to movement and self-care can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. Some of the benefits of integrating a thirty-minute walk into your daily schedule include:

If you suffer from high blood pressure or cholesterol, you may be especially well-served by bringing walking into your fitness routine. Walking can help combat hypertension and high cholesterol surprisingly effectively. Those who grapple with chronic joint and muscular pain and other physical conditions also often see improvements in their symptoms after beginning a regular walking routine.

30 minutes walking per day – in numbers

Close up on walking shoes
KieferPix / Shutterstock

Note: These numbers are only estimates! You may get slightly higher or lower values based on your height, stride length and walking speed.

Distance:

  • About 1.5-2 miles (2.4 – 3.2 km).

Many experts recommend a brisk walking pace of 3-4 mph for health and fitness. At a brisk walking pace of 3 mph (4.8 kph), you’ll walk 1.5 miles in 30 minutes (2.4 km). At 4 mph, you’ll go 2 miles (3.2 km). That’s a good distance that will work up a sweat, but not so far that it’s unattainable for most experienced walkers!

Steps:

  • 3,000 to 4,000 steps

The average person takes a bit more than 2,000 steps to walk a mile. That number will change depending on your height and stride length. Taller people take longer steps, which means they get fewer steps per mile. When added on to the steps you take normally throughout the day, 4,000 steps might just put you close to a 10,000 step goal! Even if your total is lower than that, your 30-minute walk will do wonders for your health.

Calories:

  • 100-150 calories at 3 mph (depending on body weight)

Check out our guide to how many calories you burn while walking for a more detailed breakdown! At 3 mph, a 130 pound (59kg) person burns about 100 calories per half hour while a 205-pound person burns around 150. Smaller people tend to burn slightly fewer calories due to having less weight to move around. Regardless of your size, those calories can really add up (when combined with healthy eating habits)!

How to Squeeze in Your Thirty Minutes

One good 30-minute walk

If you’ve got some consistent, sizable chunks of free time on your hands, think about working one full-length thirty-minute walk into your day as a regular part of your routine. You’ll have a chance to get out and grab some fresh air on your lunch break or hit the treadmill for a quick half-hour on your commute home.

Woman walking alone in nature
Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock

Not everybody has the opportunity to dedicate these solid blocks of time to their physical wellbeing, but you may be surprised to find that opportunity is lurking in more places than you think. The American Bureau of Labor Statistics found that most of us watch, on average, almost three hours of television per day. Consider foregoing some of that screen time for some exercise. Or, if you can’t miss out on the latest episodes of your favorite shows, bring your phone or tablet along with you to the gym and get some watch time in there.

One great way to get that walk in is to go to sleep a bit earlier and start a morning walking routine. We’re often at our least productive before bedtime – watching tv, surfing social media or doing other less-than-productive tasks. By getting to sleep earlier and using that time for a morning walk, you can get your steps in before distractions set in!

Shorter Walks Add Up Over Time

Studies have indicated that while one thirty-minute walk was once lauded as the ideal option, multiple shorter walks are actually just as beneficial to our health. That means that if you’re short on time (or opportunity), you’re in luck! You can try to work in a handful of ten or fifteen-minute strolls throughout the day to meet your goals.

Employees walking and having a meeting
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

If you find that you’re stuck behind your desk without the opportunity to run away for a decent walk, start thinking about how you can work quick jaunts into your daily routine to achieve those thirty minutes of walking. Short lunch break? Grab a ten-minute power walk around your building before sitting down to eat. Busy with kiddos? Get your steps in inside your home while junior naps.

Do remember that it’s still important to properly warm up and cool down for short walks, just like any other type of cardio exercise. You may not be able to walk at a brisk pace during a short walk, but that’s ok. All of your steps count, so getting active is definitely better than not getting active at all. A great way to get your steps is to mix in short walks with more intense fitness walks when you have the time. For example, take 3 5-minute walks while at work, and a brisk 15-minute walk when you get home. Fortunately, walking is very versatile and you can make it work for your specific situation.

Just get out and walk!

If you’re not sure where or when to walk, just head out your door and take a short stroll. Committing to take the first step is usually all the motivation you’ll need to get in a great walking workout. You don’t need to take the perfect walk – getting active will usually do just fine! Making that small commitment to start can help ensure you’re walking (almost) every day, which is key to getting the most out of your walking routine.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of whether integrating thirty minutes of walking into your daily routine seems like a breeze or a struggle, you should spend the time it takes to figure out how to make it happen. Those thirty minutes offer such incredible health benefits that it’s nonsensical to turn a blind eye to the value it can add to your life. Whether you need to break it up to suit your schedule or not, make an effort to walk for thirty minutes a day– the results may surprise you.

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