Benefits of Walking

The first step in getting healthier is often the most difficult one. But what if the first step is just that–taking a step?! While walking may seem like a very simple activity, there are many ways that it can help the health of your whole body, not just your muscles and bones. Walking can help build and maintain bone density while decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis. It can improve waist circumference and fat mass and can improve blood sugar.

How much should I walk?
Many of us have heard of the “10,000 steps per day” rule. Increasing your daily step count up to 10,000 is associated with a significant decrease in mortality rate and a decreased chance of cardiovascular disease. However, walking less than 10,000 steps is still beneficial. Health benefits, such as improved blood sugar, can be seen at only 2,500-4,000 steps per day, possibly “canceling out” the risks that come with living a sedentary life.

Gut Health
Walking can also help with gut health. Walking at a consistent time every day, even for 5-10 minutes, can help decrease and prevent constipation. For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an increase in walking can improve symptoms by 50%. In 2022, a study showed an increase in step count from 4,000 to 9,500 per day decreased IBS symptoms by 50% for young people.

Mental Health
Mental health can also be improved by walking. When compared to adults performing no physical activity, people who completed 75 minutes of walking a week had an 18% lower risk of depression. Adults who completed 150 minutes per week had a 25% lower risk of depression. While exercise and physical activity might not be what everybody needs, it has the possibility of improving mental health.

Where do I start?
If you want to start walking, first consult with your doctor. Something that works for one person may not work for you, which is why it is a good idea to let a healthcare practitioner know if you want to significantly change your exercise habits. Second, start small! Start with 5 minutes, or 10 minutes a day. Once that feels easy, increase by 5-minute increments until you’re at a good distance and pace for you.

We can help!
If you’re starting a new walking program, have old or new injuries, or would like to pursue medical advice before increasing activity, physical therapy can help! We at Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy are equipped and excited to serve you and help you in your pursuit of health. With 20+ locations we are ready to meet you where you are! Come to one of our locations, visit our website, or call 616.256.8679 to discuss if physical therapy would be right for you.



Hamaguchi T, Tayama J, Suzuki M, Nakaya N, Takizawa H, Koizumi K, Amano Y, Kanazawa M, Fukudo S. The effects of locomotor activity on gastrointestinal symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome among younger people: An observational study.

Pearce M, Garcia L, Abbas A, Strain T, Schuch FB, Golubic R, Kelly P, Khan S, Utukuri M, Laird Y, Mok A, Smith A, Tainio M, Brage S, Woodcock J. Association Between Physical Activity and Risk of Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

Lan YS, Feng YJ. The volume of brisk walking is the key determinant of BMD improvement in premenopausal women.

Learn More About
the Author

Sarah Johnson, DPT