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Is 30 Minutes of Walking a Day Really Enough Exercise on Its Own? We Ask the Experts

Walking offers a multitude of health benefits – that much we know. But, is a daily 30-minute walk enough exercise? We asked the experts.


Read when you’ve got time to spare.

woman wearing workout gear, walking with headphones on

We know that ’hot girl walks’ are as good for our physical health as they are for our mental wellbeing, and there’s plenty of research out there to suggest that even just small pockets of walking can have huge benefits, from reducing the risk of early death to boosting our motivation and performance at work.

But just how long should we be aiming to walk if that’s our only exercise? Could 30 minutes of strolling a day really offer all of the protections that other forms of movement boast?

Is 30 minutes of walking a day enough exercise?

According to NHS guidance, adults should aim to do some type of physical activity every day. 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week is the general recommendation for most people. So, how does that translate to walking? The honest answer: it depends.

“If you’re a beginner, someone who’s simply looking to stay moderately active or someone who is returning to exercise after injury/a long break, 30 minutes of walking a day might be enough,” says Klaudia Lucia, trainer at Barry’s UK.

That said, for the majority of people, 30 minutes of walking a day isn’t enough exercise. “Everyone should be moving for at least 30 minutes a day as part of their general lifestyle – it’s great for both mind and body,” says James Dabbs, founder of Dabbs Fitness. “However, it’s a trap to fall into thinking that this is part of your training – it’s not. This should be done outside of your running/cycling/gym work. You need to set your levels and targets higher than a basic 30 minutes of walking.”

Without a balanced training programme, it’s impossible to meet your body’s many needs where fitness is concerned. “You have to consider the limitations of a 30-minute daily walk alone,” says personal trainer Sana Shirvani. “From a strength and muscle perspective, walking primarily engages your lower body but doesn’t provide significant strength-building opportunities.

“In order to maintain muscle mass and bone density – especially as we age – it’s advisable to include strength training into your routine. Following a progressive plan would be ideal for most people in the general population.”

While walking is great for cardiovascular health, it’s advisable (for most people) to incorporate some higher-intensity cardio activity into your routine, too. 

“Opting for a tennis, cycling or swimming session will probably be slightly more intense on the body. You can play around with intervals, EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and the use of different energy systems to make the workout more ‘fun’ but also challenging,” says Shirvani.

How much exercise should you be doing?

“A great rule of thumb to start with is to get out of breath at least three times per week,” says Dabbs. “This could involve hiking, cycling, or fast, inclined walking – it could also mean running or sprinting, depending on current fitness levels. Combining this with some resistance/weight training as well a couple of times per week would be ideal.”

To balance out your daily 30-minute walks, Lucia recommends adding some strength-training sessions to your weekly schedule, too. “This could be bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups or squats with a resistance band. It could be a weights session in the gym – lifting dumbbells and performing a full-body workout – or even pilates, which is a form of strength training.

“Walking will help build cardiovascular fitness for lung and heart health, but strength training will also help to strengthen joints, aid in your ability to complete everyday tasks and decrease injury risk.”

Images: Getty

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This post originally appeared on Stylist and was published May 26, 2023. This article is republished here with permission.

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