If your goal is to trim down then yes, walking 20 minutes a day can be a healthy addition to a healthy weight loss plan. Adding walking to a reduced-calorie diet, will increase the number of calories that you burn each day. Add all of those up each day and if there is a deficit then you will most certainly shed a few pounds. To lose one pound of body fat, you need to burn about 3,500 calories. So let's say your 20-minute walk burns about 100 calories. In that case, it would take you 35 days of walking 20 minutes a day to lose one pound (assuming no other exercise or dietary changes).
We encourage all our patients to move and incorporate some activity into their daily routine. Weight loss isn't the only benefit of walking 20 minutes a day, though a 5% weight loss can mean the difference between going on medication or managing with diet and exercise for a Type 2 diabetic. It may mean staying on pills rather than going on insulin.
The simple activity of walking has so many powerful health benefits.
- Linked to Lower Rates of Depression -Higher levels of physical activity — like walking for an hour — have been linked to lower rates of depression, according to research published in the January 2019 issue of JAMA Psychiatry.
- Can Help Reduce Stress - Participants in a May 2018 study in Behavioral Sciences experienced greater reductions in levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol and in their own rankings of their emotional stress after walking in nature than after walking in a more urban environment.
- Associated With Longer Life Expectancy - Staying physically active has been tied to a longer life, according to a June 2019 study from The BMJ. And a July 2020 study from The Lancet Global Health concluded that those who exercised regularly had a lower risk of premature death.
- Helps Keep Your Knees Healthy and Pain-Free — Walking is low-impact, meaning it's easier on your joints (especially your knees) than a high-impact activity like running. Just one hour a week can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing knee problems. And walking backwards can help reduce knee pain once it starts
- Might Lower the Risk and Severity of a Stroke - The more you walk, the lower your risk of stroke, according to Harvard Health Publishing. And frequent walking has also been linked to less severe strokes if they do occur, according to an October 2018 study from Neurology .
- Linked to Lower Rates of Cardiovascular Disease - The American Heart Association advocates for walking as part of a strategy for reducing the risk of heart disease. And an August 2017 study from the European Heart Journal found that brisk walkers were less likely to die from heart disease than slower walkers.
- Linked to Lower Blood Pressure - People who took about 12,000 steps a day over the course of six months improved both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to a June 2013 study from the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine .
- Associated With Lower Levels of Anxiety - When combined with a bit of moving meditation, walking can help boost your mental health and ease anxiety, according to a July 2018 study from Health Promotion Perspectives.
- Helps Soothe Anger - According to that same Health Promotion Perspectives study mentioned above, participants who took that 10-minute walk also reported feeling less angry afterward.
- Associated With Reduced Risk of Glaucoma - “People who are physically active appear to have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma," according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and research presented at their 2017 annual meeting.
- Linked to Lower Rates and Slower Progression of Alzheimer’s- Increased physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's by a 2017 study from The Lancet. It's also been linked to stabilizing cognitive functioning in those already with Alzheimer's disease, according to a 2014 study from the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics.
- Can Help You Sleep Better - Getting into a good walking routine can help improve sleep duration and quality, according to a 2016 study in BMJ Open.
Walking can have a bigger impact on disease risk and various health conditions than just about any other remedy that’s readily available to you. What’s more, it’s free and has practically no negative side effects. Walking 20 minutes a day or more is a low-impact activity that's easily incorporated into your daily routine. There's no equipment required other than a good pair of walking shoes!
Above are 12 reasons to incorporate some movement into your daily routine. No matter where you are, just open the door and go.