5 minutes may not seem like much, but a 5-minute walk can get you more steps, burn more calories and take you farther than you might think. Not everyone has time in their busy schedule to go on a 1-hour walk every day. That’s not the only way you can hit a 10,000 step goal, however. You might have a feeling that several short walks are just as good as one long one, but you might not have worked out how many steps you’d take, how far you’d go, or how many calories you’d burn from walking 5 minutes.
It’s true that 5-minutes is not generally enough time to get in brisk, fitness walking. That’s ok! 5 minutes can make it hard to do the proper warmup and cooldown you’ll need for intense walking workouts like interval training. But with the right strategy and frame of mind, you can make the most of your 5 minutes and get a bit closer to hitting your daily step goal!
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Is it worth taking a 5-minute walk?
You may be wondering if it’s even worth it to walk for 5 minutes if that’s all the time you have. The answer is definitely yes! There are several reasons why it’s worth it to get up and get active when you can during the day, even if it’s only for a short time.
Counteract the health risks of sitting
Sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for your health. A 2-5 minute walk every hour can undo the health effects of an hour of sitting. If you’re working a desk job, getting up and getting active, even for a short time, is great for your health. It also helps boost your energy and creativity, so it might be just what you need.
Multiple short walks work just as well as one long one
It turns out that breaking up your walks into smaller chunks is just as beneficial as taking one long walk. According to the CDC, as long as you’re performing moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise, “all amounts of aerobic activity count towards meeting the key guidelines.” A NY Times article pointed out that most physical activity counts the same, whether it’s a series of 2-minute walks for a few 10-minute walks. If short walks help you get your 30-minutes of walking a day, that’s great!
You can do them anywhere, any time
Let’s face it – not everyone can just get up and walk for an hour in the middle of the day. Even if you’re able to walk whenever you want, there will be times that you’re just too busy, or just not feeling up to a long walk. You can get a 5-minute walk by taking an extended bathroom break at the job, or pausing your streaming TV show to create your own mini-commercial. You probably don’t need to change into walking clothes or do a lot of prep work to get 5 minutes in. Just 6 of these mini-walks can get your minimum daily recommended steps.
Short 5-10 minute walks are also great for office workers who may not have the time to get a long walk in during a break. When researchers studied the energy-boosting effects of walking, they chose a 10-minute stair climbing workout precisely because most office workers can take a short break and walk up or down stairs in their building. That short workout gives as much energy as half a cup of coffee!
5 minutes of walking – distance
How far can you go in 5 minutes? It depends on your walking speed.
- 2.5 mph (4 kph) – 0.2 miles (0.32 km)
- 3 mph (4.8 kph) – 0.25 miles (0.4 km)
- 3.5 mph (5.6 kph) – 0.29 miles (0.47 km)
- 4 mph (6.4 kph) – 0.33 miles (0.53 km)
While that’s not a ton of distance, it can add up over time. You’re probably unlikely to be able to run errands in 5 minutes (unless you have a convenience store near your home or office), but you can probably get around the block or get a nice walk around the office.
5 minutes of walking – steps
The number you probably really want to know is how many steps you’ll get in 5 minutes. Your step count depends on a number of factors. Your height and other factors determine your stride length, but your speed also plays a factor. Here are some estimates based on your height:
Steps in 5 minutes (3 mph)
- 5’4″ – 589 steps
- 5’6″ – 571steps
- 5’8″ – 554 steps
- 5’10” – 538 steps
- 6’0″ – 523 steps
500-600 steps won’t get you all the way to your goal, but it can make a difference. Just four 5-minute walks can get you an additional 2,000 steps per day, which is a great target for boosting your step goal.
Steps in 5 minutes (based on speed)
- 3 mph – 556 steps
- 3.5 mph – 595 steps
- 4 mph – 1,906 steps
- 3 mph – 581 steps
- 3.5 mph – 624 steps
- 4 mph – 668 steps
The faster you walk, the more steps you get in any given time. It’s hard to walk super fast in 5-minutes, so don’t stress the extra 60-100 steps!
5 minutes of walking – calories burned
Your calorie burn may be the most important thing to know if you’re trying to lose weight walking or burn some stubborn belly fat. Your calorie burn depends on your weight and walking speed. Here are some selected numbers, and for more details check out our piece here:
- 130 pounds (59kg) – 3 mph burns 16 calories, 4 mph burns 25 calories in 5 minutes. (4.8/6.4 kph)
- 155 pounds (70kg) – 3 mph burns 19 calories, 4 mph burns 29 calories in 5 minutes. (4.8/6.4 kph)
- 180 pounds (82kg) – 3 mph burns 23 calories, 4 mph burns 34 calories in 5 minutes. (4.8/6.4 kph)
- 205 pounds (93kg) – 3 mph burns 26 calories, 4 mph burns 39 calories in 5 minutes. (4.8/6.4 kph)
As you can see, 5 minutes of walking is likely not even enough to burn off a healthy 100-calorie snack. It would take several such walks to get up to 100 calories, but then again a 5-minute walk is only a small part of an active day.
Get the most out of your 5-minute walk
Since you only have 5 minutes, you’ll want to get the most out of your walk. Here are some things to consider.
Go easy on your feet and knees
If you only have 5 minutes to walk, you probably didn’t have time to change into walking shoes or put on your walking outfit. While you can get by on a 5 minute walk without dedicated walking shoes, taking a bunch of short walks in dress shoes, can leave you with foot pain or other injuries. If you plan to be walking a lot, look for dress shoes with more comfortable soles and cushioning. Do what you can to save your feet!
You also may be tempted to get a really intense workout in by walking or running up stairs or the like. Stairs, inclines and other intense walks already put more impact on your knees and other joints. Going right into stairs with no warmup is a great way to tweak your knee. Try to work in at least a short warmup, and take the intensity down a bit from what you’d do if you were fully warmed up. If you do want to walk up and down a few flights of stairs, go more slowly and save some impact.
Keep it brisk (within limits)
Brisk walking is ideal for fitness, and lets you hit that moderate-intensity exercise that you need for your minimum daily requirements. If you only have 5 minutes, it’s hard to work your way up to a fast, fitness walk. Don’t worry so much about your speed, but make sure you’re walking with proper form and technique. You can try a 1.5-minute warmup and 1.5-minute cooldown, with 2 minutes in the middle of brisker walking.
Even if you’re only able to get some leisurely walking in, that’s still great for your health! Studies have shown that even light activity, like a very leisurely walk, has amazing health benefits. Those 5 minutes of getting active are good for your body, whether or not you can hit the hypothetical “brisk” pace.
One reason walking is great is that you can do it anywhere, any time and for as long as you have available. For many, that’s a little 5-minute walk during breaks. You can still get a fair amount of steps and start accruing those health benefits of walking, but make sure to realize that one 5-minute walk per day is not enough for most healthy adults. Keep at it, and those little walks can go a long way towards hitting a big step goal!
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