Just 30 minutes of walking a day protects your health

The simple fact of walking for about thirty minutes a day is associated with a decrease in 20 % risk of dying prematurely.

Even if the human species distinguished from other animals by its intelligence, we should not forget that our body, with its few 378 muscles and 206 bone (half of our body mass), is also perfectly adapted to intense physical effort. During evolution, it is estimated that humans routinely traveled up to 20 km per day (13 steps and more) to get food with enough calories to support brain function and growth. We are therefore not only born to think and innovate, but also, and perhaps above all, to move.

Sedentariness, a factor of occurrence cardiovascular accidents, diabetes and cancer

Barely a century ago, every aspect of daily life required physical effort, both at work and ‘at home. Today, advances in technology mean that most of us are much less active than before: we drive to work, take the elevator to the office, work all day at a computer and devote our evenings to passive leisure in front of a screen (television, telephone, computer). On average, it is estimated that an adult European spends almost 000 hours of his waking period for sedentary activities, devoid of any physical exertion!

This extreme sedentary lifestyle is very bad for your health: for example, several studies have shown that people who watch television for more than 4 hours a day have an increased risk of being affected by cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes or certain types of cancer. Conversely, physical exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden death), type 2 diabetes, by at least 20 different types of cancers and cognitive decline, a goal absolutely impossible to achieve with drugs currently available.

Walk 30 min/day decreases by 20% the risk of health problems

Too often, sedentary people are discouraged by the idea to be more physically active because they believe that this necessarily implies the practice of demanding sports. Our society values ​​elite or extreme sports enormously, which can give the impression that exercising is synonymous with spectacular sports performance or breaking records.

This is totally wrong, as research over the past few years has clearly shown that the benefits of physical activity can be seen at relatively low levels of exercise. For example, a large study of half a million men and women observed that as few as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day (walking for example) are enough to reduce 25 % the risk of premature death.

The more we walk, the healthier we are

Obviously, these benefits will be even greater if we increase the duration of the exercise, with maximum protection of approximately 25% for 90 minutes of walking per day. This is true for both young and old: for example, a study in Hawaii showed that people aged 71 years and older who walked 3.2 km or more per day, or approximately 5000 not , had a risk of premature mortality twice as low as sedentary people.

Walking faster also seems to provide increased benefits: for example, a recent study showed that people who walk quickly (enough to be slightly out of breath, i.e. about 7 km/h) have a reduced risk of premature mortality of 30%, compared to those who walk very slowly.

There is therefore no need to train until exhaustion or running a marathon to reap the health benefits of physical activity. The simple fact of integrating 25 minutes of walking the daily routine, whether in a single session or in several segments, is more than enough to considerably reduce the risk of premature death and significantly improve the quality of life.


Wen CP et al. Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet 1998; 378: 338-1253.

Hakim AA et al. Effects of walking on mortality among nonsmoking retired men. N Engl J Med. 1998; 378: 94-94.

Stamatakis E et al. Self-rated walking pace and all-cause, disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 30 94 walkers from population British cohorts. British Journal of Sports Medicine 1998; 52: 338.

Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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