When many people consider starting an exercise program after being inactive for quite some time, they immediately jump to thinking that the only real options for working out involve signing up for a gym membership and getting on a cardio machine like the elliptical or bike.
Walking 30 minutes a day is an approachable fitness goal for most people.
Although it may take time to work up to walking 30 minutes a day, most people find that walking 30 minutes a day can be a very sustainable fitness routine with noticeable improvements in health and well-being.
This article will discuss the benefits of walking 30 minutes a day and tips for building a consistent walking routine to walk 30 minutes a day.
We will cover:
- How Far Is Walking 30 Minutes a Day?
- How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking 30 Minutes a Day?
- Benefits of Walking 30 Minutes a Day
- Tips to Make a Habit of Walking 30 Minutes a Day
Let’s dive in!
How Far Is Walking 30 Minutes a Day?
Depending on how fast you walk, walking 30 minutes a day is roughly equivalent to walking 1.5-2 miles (2.5-3.5 kilometers).
One study of 997 middle-aged walkers (aged 45 years old) found that the average walking speeds were 1.30 m/s for usual walking gait and 1.99 m/s for maximum gait.
We can convert these walking speeds into distances for a 30-minute walk.
The average “usual” walking speed works out to walking 2,340 meters (1.43 miles), while walking 30 minutes at the average maximum walking speed would involve walking 3,582 meters, which is 2.15 miles.
Therefore, this data suggests that the average middle-aged walker can walk 1.43-2.15 miles in 30 minutes.
How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking 30 Minutes a Day?
In general, wearing a heart rate monitor and GPS fitness watch is the best way to get an accurate estimate of how many calories you burn walking, but you can also approximate the energy expenditure of walking 30 miles a day using the metabolic equivalents (METS) for walking at different speeds.
The Compendium of Physical Activities reports that walking at a leisurely pace of 2.8-3.2 mph on a level surface is equivalent to 3.5 METs. Walking at a pace of 3.5 mph on a level surface is 4.3 METs, while walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 mph on a level surface is rated at 5 METs, and finally, walking at a very brisk pace of 4.5 mph is 7 METs.
Walking 2.9–3.5 mph uphill at a 1 to 5% grade is roughly 5.3 METs, and maintaining that pace while climbing a 6 to 15% grade bumps the metabolic demand up to 8 METs.
Below, we’ve created a table that uses these METs values for different walking speeds and conditions to calculate the approximate number of calories burned walking 30 minutes a day for various body weights.
|Weight (lbs)||Weight (kg)||Calories Burned Walking 30 Minutes at 2.8-3.2 mph||Calories Burned Walking 30 Minutes at 3.5 mph||Calories Burned Walking 30 Minutes at 4.0 mph||Calories Burned Walking 30 Minutes at 4.5 mph||Calories Burned Walking 30 Minutes at 2.9–3.5 mph at 1-5% Grade||Calories Burned Walking 30 Minutes at 2.9–3.5 mph at 6-15% Grade|
Benefits of Walking 30 minutes a Day
Spending 30 minutes walking every day may not sound like a big investment of time, but there are many benefits of walking 30 minutes a day, including the following:
#1: Walking 30 Minutes a Day Increases Your Aerobic Capacity
Depending on where you are in your fitness journey, walking 30 minutes a day may be a huge step up from what you’re currently doing, or it may be something you’re just looking to add to your current fitness routine as a way to be even more active and enjoy additional health benefits of walking.
Particularly for people in poorer physical shape, walking 30 minutes a day can be a fantastic way to boost your aerobic capacity or VO2 max.
The results from a large review of 32 studies investigating the effects of walking interventions on cardiovascular disease risk factors showed that walking interventions (20-60 minutes per day 2-7 days per week for a mean of 18 weeks) increased aerobic capacity (VO2 max) by 3.04 mL/kg/min.
Your VO2 max is a measure of how effectively your body can take in and utilize oxygen during physical activity.
The higher your VO2 max, the better your aerobic fitness.
#2: Walking 30 Minutes a Day Strengthens Your Muscles
Walking strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, and core to varying degrees, depending on the incline and speed at which you are walking. The steeper the incline, the more you will use your hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
Furthermore, if you actively pump your arms, you will recruit your upper body and core more effectively, helping to make your walking workouts a total-body exercise.
#3: Walking 30 Minutes a Day Reduces Your Risk of Disease
Walking is a form of aerobic exercise, which is well established to provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, improving insulin sensitivity, and regulating blood sugar levels.
For example, studies have found that walking interventions roughly on par with walking 30 minutes a day can reduce systolic blood pressure (-3.58 mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (-1.54 mm Hg).
Due to the various improvements in health biomarkers, walking 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of various lifestyle diseases, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
#4: Walking 30 Minutes a Day Can Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
Any type of physical activity burns calories, including walking, so even 30-minute walks can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, as long as you make it a consistent habit and keep your caloric intake in check.
To lose one pound of body fat, you have to create a caloric deficit of roughly 3,500 calories, meaning you have to burn 3,500 calories more than you eat.
Therefore, you need to generate a caloric deficit of 500 calories per week to lose one pound of fat per week.
This can be achieved by consuming 500 fewer calories than you eat, burning 500 more calories than you consume, or a combination of eating less and exercising more to yield a net deficit of 500 calories.
Walking 30 minutes a day factors into the calories you burn in a day.
A review of 32 studies found that walking interventions (20-60 minutes per day 2-7 days per week for a mean of 18 weeks) reduced waist circumference (-1.51 cm), weight (-1.37 kg), body fat percentage (-1.22%) and body mass index (-0.53 kg/m2).
These findings suggest that walking 30 minutes a day most days per week can indeed be an effective way to lose weight and decrease your body fat percentage.
#5: Walking 30 Minutes A Day Improves Your Mental Health
Studies have found that walking regularly improves emotional health, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves mood and overall feelings of well-being.
#6: Walking 30 Minutes a Day Can Reduce Chronic Pain
Our minds often try to convince us that if we are in pain, the last thing we need to do is exercise.
However, although you might be inclined to think rest is better than physical activity if you suffer from chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis in your knees or hips, or some other form of musculoskeletal pain, walking 30 minutes a day may actually help alleviate your discomfort more effectively.
A large review found that walking can reduce the severity, discomfort, and functional limitations associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
6 Tips to Make a Habit of Walking 30 Minutes a Day
Any time you start a new exercise routine, it can be daunting. However, developing a consistent habit of walking 30 minutes a day just takes a commitment to your health and a little planning, and the payoff is totally worth it.
Here are a few tips for building consistency with your workout routine:
- Walk at the same time every day. Carving out that slot in your day as your sacred workout time will help ensure you always have time to get your walk done.
- Walk with a friend. A walking buddy can help increase motivation and provide accountability; walking and talking is a great way to bond and pass the time.
- Keep your routes varied. Walking on different terrain and over different courses will prevent boredom and keep your muscles challenged.
- Set goals. Consider training to walk a 5k event or set another goal to increase your motivation to get out and walk.
- Use a pedometer. Tracking your steps can be fun and will help you feel engaged in your 30-minute walks.
- Listen to music or podcasts. If you walk alone, listen to something you enjoy, like a true crime podcast, pump-up jams, or an audiobook.
Feet proud! Walking 30 minutes a day is a great step towards having excellent health.
If you are already walking 30 minutes a day, the next big step would be to walk one hour daily. Check out our guide to do so here!