Fitness / Beginner Fitness

How a Daily 30-Minute Walk Can Boost Health

No need for fancy gear, just comfy walking shoes. Here’s how to get started and stay consistent with a daily walk

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard finding enough time or energy in your day to carve out exercise. But you know how integral physical activity is to your overall health and wellness. In fact exercise can significantly improve your brain health, help you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and muscles and even reduce your risk for a myriad of diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

While you might worry that you don’t have enough free time in your day to dedicate to the amount of exercise needed for optimal health, the reality is that all you need is 30 minutes. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of cardio-intensive activity each week, which is just 30 minutes a day—and walking counts as one of those heart-pumping activities. 

In fact, Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center, believes that walking is the gateway to regular exercise for the average person. “People make excuses all the time—perhaps that a gym membership is too expensive, they don’t have the time, or they don’t know what to do to actually ‘exercise’—but going for daily walks will get you in the mood to exercise regularly,” he says. “Daily walking will help you feel better, and losing a few pounds is also an additional benefit.”

The reality is that the majority of Americans live a sedentary lifestyle which is characterized by little-to-no physical activity and involves sitting or lying for extended periods of time. A sedentary lifestyle actually puts you at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain cancers, according to a study published in the Korean Journal of Family Medicine

If you’re looking to increase your exercise—start with just 30 minutes. Here’s a look at all of the ways in which you stand to benefit from this minimal amount of movement per day. 

Weight management

Walking burns calories and increases metabolism, so it can help you maintain a healthy weight or even lose excess pounds. “Try to make a regular routine and also some dietary changes as well. Keep active and mind the calories for a good start to weight loss,” says Dr. Conrad. 

Improved heart health

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, per the CDC, so it’s safe to say that we can all benefit from boosting our cardiovascular health. Regular walking can help improve your heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels and enhancing circulation. Dr. Conrad also points out that it can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Better bone strength

As we age, we start to lose density in our bones and they become more brittle. We also experience a decrease in certain minerals that give our bones strength, like phosphorus and calcium Luckily, weight-bearing activities like walking can help stimulate bone growth and help maintain bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Walking also strengthens muscles, joints, and connective tissues, promoting overall musculoskeletal health.

Improved digestion

Walking, especially brisk walking, can help stimulate the muscles in your digestive tract. This helps promote the rhythmic contractions that are known as peristalsis, that help food move through the tract, explains Dr. Conrad. Walking also helps boost circulation and reduces bloating and gas, which may help alleviate some unpleasant symptoms of poor digestion. 

Reduced stress

Whether you’re walking outdoors in nature or inside on a treadmill, this physical activity causes your body to release “feel-good” endorphins, which are natural chemical messengers that increase your mood and reduce our perception of pain. A daily walk can boost mental clarity, energy levels, and overall well-being, explains Dr. Conrad

Enhanced brain function

Per research published in the journal frontiers in Psychology, regular walking has been associated with improved cognitive function and brain health. “It enhances blood flow to the brain, stimulates the growth of new neurons, and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life,” says Dr. Conrad. 

More restful sleep

Because exercise like walking can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, it can actually help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly throughout the night. In fact, research published in the journal Clinics has shown that frequent exercise can help reduce incidences of insomnia. 

How to get started with a daily 30-minute walk

Set a goal

Goals can help encourage and motivate you, but it’s a smart idea to make them realistic and tangible. For example, aim to walk for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. It doesn’t have to be every day — and you can break these into two shorter 15-minute sessions if needed. 

Plan your route 

Consider mapping out how far you’d need to walk in order to be out for 30 minutes. You could also opt to walk 15 minutes in one direction and simply turn around. This could be around your neighborhood, a local park, a walking trail, or even indoors at a shopping mall or indoor track. 

Incorporate stretching

Before you start walking, take a few minutes to warm up your muscles with a few light stretches or dynamic movements—think calf stretches, hamstring stretches, lunges, etc. 

Stay hydrated

Walking, or any other physical activity, causes you to lose more water, especially in hot or humid weather or if you’re walking so intensely that you start to sweat. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re drinking water before, during, and after your walk to maintain optimal hydration levels.

Stay consistent

One easy way to stay on track with your walking goals is to try to stick to the same time of day to have your walks. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, or after you eat dinner. When you walk doesn’t matter—it only matters that you actually do.

Aaptiv walking programs

Ready to lace up those walking shoes and experience the benefits of a daily 30-minute walk? Let Aaptiv be your guide. Our walking programs are designed for all fitness levels and offer a variety of options, from brisk walks to power walks, to ensure you get the most out of your workout.

Sign up for a 7-day free trial with Aaptiv today and start taking steps towards a healthier, happier you!

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