Olena is a nutrition and healthcare writer, runner, and gym enthusiast. She is keen on health and fitness research, modern studies on sports and nutrition, and various physical activities.
on October 21, 2022
Walking just 30 minutes a day can make you way healthier and happier! Devote a little time to take care of your body, and it will give you so much in return. Read on to find out how walking affects your mind and body and how much you need to walk in a day.
You can walk as much as you can and anywhere you can. There is no need to get ready and spend much time arriving at a venue (as when you need to go to the gym, tennis court, or swimming pool).
It is a safe exercise that suits almost everyone. Walking has a much lower risk of trauma than, for instance, running or strength and HIIT training.
Walking is beneficial to your cardiovascular health. Walking at a high pace reduces cardiovascular disease mortality risks because it strengthens your heart muscle and lowers blood pressure1Stamatakis E, Kelly P, Strain T, et al.(2018).Self-rated walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50 225 walkers from 11 population British cohorts.British Journal of Sports Medicine.Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/12/761.
It is easy to combine walking with other activities. You can listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, walk and talk with somebody, sightsee, and take photos.
Walking improves the quality of sleep. As with any other cardio exercise, walking makes you fall asleep faster and feel more energized when you wake up2Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD.(2006).Exercise for Mental Health.Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry.DOI:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a.
Your mental health also benefits from walking. This simple activity can reduce anxiety levels and the risk of depression3Monika Guszkowska.(2004, July-August)Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood.Psychiatr Pol.PMID:15518309. In addition, regular exercise helps to boost self-esteem2Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD.(2006).Exercise for Mental Health.Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry.DOI:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a.
Breathing fresh air while walking improves your immunity. Brisk walking and consuming a lot of oxygen strengthens your muscles and your response to viruses4David Christopher Nieman.(1994, May).The immune response to exercise.Semin Hematol.PMID:8066473.
There is a big variety of activities related to walking. You can eventually switch to Scandinavian walking, tourism, power walking, or brisk walking. Changing your route from time to time also helps to avoid monotony.
Possible side effects
Walking is generally harmless to your health and has far more benefits than drawbacks. But there are some things you need to be aware of:
If your footwear is not comfortable, you might get blisters or foot pain.
Walking in hot weather can lead to sunstroke or dehydration.
Long distances can cause fatigue and muscle soreness.
Intensive walking is not the best activity for people who already have health conditions.
Walking in bad or even extreme weather conditions might be too risky.
How many minutes a day for walking is enough to improve health
You can start with walking 30 minutes a day. You don't even need to devote extra time to it. You can make a little 15-minute walk to your job or school. Here's how you can do it:
Take off one stop earlier if you use public transport.
Park your car a bit further from the destination to walk to the venue.
If you study or work remotely, walk around your neighborhood before or after work.
When you meet up with friends, offer them to walk instead of sitting in one place all the time.
You burn about 100 calories when you walk 1 mile. It means you can burn around 300 calories an hour if you walk at a rather fast pace. Of course, this number is different for people of different ages and weights.
For example, a woman who weighs 160 pounds and is 30 years old burns 90 calories if she walks at the speed of 3.5 mph. As you walk further, you can burn a bit more calories every next mile. Choosing difficult routes with hills and uneven surfaces can increase the number of calories you burn even more.
Many physical activities such as CrossFit, classic weight training, tennis, and team sports such as basketball and football increase your appetite. It makes you cover up for the burnt calories and consume more food. Running and walking, on the contrary, makes you less hungry during the day or at least doesn't change the amount of food you want to consume8King, James A et al.(2010, March).Influence of brisk walking on appetite, energy intake, and plasma acylated ghrelin.Medicine and science in sports and exercise.DOI:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ba10c4.
Buy comfortable footwear, so nothing bothers you while walking.
Your clothes should also be comfy and appropriate to the weather conditions.
Grab a snack and a bottle of water in case you get hungry or thirsty.
Change your route and destination to see different places each time.
Find a walking buddy or get a dog. Walking will instantly become more interesting, and it will be harder for you to find an excuse to skip it.
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Stamatakis E, Kelly P, Strain T, et al.(2018).Self-rated walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50 225 walkers from 11 population British cohorts.British Journal of Sports Medicine.Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/12/761