Walking is a simple and easy exercise for most to add into their daily routine. It doesn't require fancy equipment, you don't need a gym membership and it's totally free.
But if you only have 30 minutes per day to spare for a walk, is it enough to actually see results?
Today I'm diving into the top 5 benefits of walking 30 minutes per day.
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#1. Weight Loss + Reduced Belly Fat
Walking at least 8,200 steps per day has been found to help reduce risk of obesity, incidences of GERD/acid reflux, sleep apnea and major depressive disorder.(1) Depending on your stride, 8,200 steps per day can take between 1-2 hours. However, it's important to note that this accounts for your total steps in the day, including the steps you take to your car, while grocery shopping and in the kitchen prepping dinner.
Another study found that walking 50-70 minutes three times per week (for an average of 30 minutes or less per day), reduced waist circumference and belly fat.(2)
#2. Improved Heart Health
Your extra steps could be helping to strengthen and make your heart healthier! Walking for at least 30 minutes per day 5 days per week has been found to help reduce your risk of heart disease by roughly 19%.(3) Another recent 2023 study found that the benefits of walking start at as low as just 2337 steps per day, although the more you walk, the better the results.(4)
#3. Less Stress
The benefits of walking can even be found with just 15 minutes per day. Walking for 15 minutes outside in a natural environment (like the park, a garden or the beach) has been found to lower the stress hormone cortisol.(5)
High levels of cortisol have been directly tied to weight gain around the belly. So not only will taking your walk outside help to naturally lower stress levels, but it can also help you achieve your weight loss goal as well. Try taking your walk to a local park, beach, hike, lake or garden to get those stress lowering perks.
#4. Boosted Immune System
With cold and flu season around the corner, you might be doing everything you can to help strengthen your immune system. Turns out, one major tool is walking. One study found that those who walk 30-45 minutes per day have about 43% fewer sick days.(6)
#5. Improved Blood Sugar
Having balanced blood sugar levels is crucial for reducing cravings, stabilizing energy levels and helping the body become more metabolically flexible (aka becoming better at burning fat). The goal is to make sure we don't get big spikes in our blood sugar levels after a meal. Thankfully, walking has been found to help with this. Walking after meals may help reduce post-prandial (after-eating) blood sugar levels. It does this by absorbing excess sugar from the blood supply to use as energy to fuel the walk.
So if you're looking to strategically time your extra 30 minutes of walking per day, try breaking it up into three 10 minute walks immediately after each of your three meals.
My Top Walking Tips
Walking is a simple and easy exercise to incorporate into your routine, but below are some of my top walking tips to help make it even easier to incorporate.
Break up your walks. Instead of going for one long walk, break up your walks into 10-15 minute "mini" walks. This not only makes it easier to fit into your day, it also is better for weight loss and wellness goals.
Get a step tracker. This isn't necessary, but it's a great tool! I use the FitBit Versa 4 to track my steps throughout the day. You can also "challenge" your friends to step challenges throughout the week through the FitBit app.
Walk after meals. Even a 5 minute walk after your meal could help to lower and balance blood sugar levels.