15-Minute Walks for Weight Loss and Health

Total exercise time per day and week may be what matters most

man walking across bridge with dog

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It can be hard to find enough time for a long workout outdoors or on the treadmill. You may wonder whether taking a brisk 15-minute walk is doing you any good, especially for weight loss. If you take two or four brisk walks per day that add up to 30 to 60 minutes, is that the same as taking one longer walk?


Walking for 15 minutes, four times a day burns as many calories as walking steadily for an hour. There may be benefits to combining them into one long walk, but you need to weigh that against what you enjoy doing and what fits into your schedule.

The American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend in their exercise guidelines for healthy adults that you should get 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise, such as brisk walking, five days a week, or a total of 150 minutes spread out over the week.

To keep off weight, they say you may need to accumulate even more exercise time over a week. But they also say that your exercise time can be broken up into shorter bouts. According to the CDC, physical activity accumulated in segments of at least 10 minutes can improve a variety of health-related outcomes. They add, however, that bouts of any length of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can contribute to health benefits.

Benefits of Longer Walks

Taking longer walks helps to build aerobic endurance. As you increase your walking duration, it gets easier to maintain your stamina for longer periods of time. And as your endurance increases, you'll find it easier to participate in other sustained activities, such as hiking or biking. You're also likely to build confidence by enhancing your mental endurance.

Longer walks also help you to burn more calories than you would during a shorter walk of the same intensity. If weight loss is your goal, burning more calories is important. Walking longer rather than walking faster or with greater intensity may be one way to achieve that goal.

Benefits of Shorter Walks

If you walk for 15 minutes at a time, your body still has burned calories that it wouldn't have burned otherwise. For some people, completing shorter walks completed throughout the day helps them to reach their physical activity target more consistently.

Your body replaces the burned glycogen either through the calories you eat or through breaking down some stored fat. If you eat more calories than your body needs, your body stores the excess calories as fat. Diet and exercise are both keys to losing weight.

Studies have looked into the effects of walking on reducing the potentially harmful triglycerides in your blood after a meal. Walking for several shorter periods of time that added up to 30 minutes per day has been shown to be just as effective as taking one long walk.

In addition, at least one study has shown that three 15-minute bouts of walking were just as effective at controlling blood sugar as a 45-minute session of sustained walking. The study also showed that walking after a meal was especially effective. The study was small in scope with just 10 participants who were inactive older adults, but it suggests an option for those looking for ways to increase daily activity to gain health benefits.

Daily Steps

A 15-minute walk at a brisk pace will be about 2,000 steps. Pedometer studies have shown that people who add more steps throughout the day are less likely to be overweight and have reduced risks for heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and more.

Many fitness trackers use 10,000 steps as a default goal. Walking four 15-minute walks adds 8,000 steps to your day, which combined with the rest of your daily steps puts you over the 10,000 steps per day that can help with weight loss.

Enjoy Your Walks

If you find it difficult to set aside an hour a day for walking, but can work in some 15-minute walks, then concentrate on the 15-minute walks. The key to fitness is finding something you enjoy doing, rather than dreading or feeling like it is a stressful chore. Once you have built the 15-minute walk habit, then look for a day or two a week you can do a longer walk.

Make the most of your 15-minute walks by using good posture and walking techniques. After a warm-up of a couple of minutes at an easy pace, speed up to a brisk pace where you are breathing noticeably. Spend most of your walk in this moderate-intensity zone to get the most benefits of burning calories and doing well for your health.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2018.  p.110

  2. Miyashita M, Burns SF, Stensel DJ. An update on accumulating exercise and postprandial lipaemia: Translating theory into practice. J Prev Med Public Health. 2013;46(Suppl 1):S3-S11. doi:10.3961/jpmph.2013.46.S.S3

  3. DiPietro L, Gribok A, Stevens MS, Hamm LF, Rumpler W. Three 15-min bouts of moderate postmeal walking significantly improves 24-h glycemic control in older people at risk for impaired glucose toleranceDiabetes Care. 2013;36(10):3262-3268. doi:10.2337/dc13-0084

  4. Tudor-Locke C, Schuna JM, Han H, et al. Step-based physical activity metrics and cardiometabolic risk. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. September 2016:1. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000001100

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.