Is 30 minutes of exercise enough to lose weight? As a beginner looking to start exercising, it can be quite a hassle trying to figure out how long you need to workout to lose weight. While some trusted sources like the CDC insist that a 30 minute workout is enough, different blogs, articles and even videos from your favourite fitness influencer can give completely different numbers. That said, is 30 minutes a day of exercise enough to help you shed those extra pounds or do you need to push yourself for longer? Read on to find out what science says.
What Are Some Benefits Of Working Out?
As the world has progressed, technology has advanced, and life has gotten generally easier, many people have found themselves falling into a sedentary lifestyle without even knowing it. Age and how busy we are on a day to day basis also contributes to this factor.
With fewer and fewer people working out or making time to exercise daily, the more obesity and the prevalence of chronic illnesses is spreading. Some reasons why you should make exercise – even for just half an hour – part of your everyday routine include
- Weight control
- Reduced your risk of heart diseases
- Improved mood and mental health
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Reduced risk of chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and more.
- Improved memory, creativity, and brain power
- Improved balance – especially in older people
Is 30 Minutes Of Exercise Enough For Lasting Results?
This might be a shocking idea, but yes – a 30-minute workout session per day is enough to not only keep you fit but also help you lose weight.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services physical guidelines, exercising for just 30 minutes a day for 5 days of the week is enough to help you maintain or improve your overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease (5).
If losing weight is your ultimate goal, then this applies to you. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – combined with a healthy caloric deficit diet can get you to your goals faster than you might believe (4).
Is 30 Minutes A Day Of Exercise Enough Weekly?
If you have been contemplating losing weight and do not believe that 30 minutes a day of exercise per week is enough to get results, we are here to assure you that it is in fact very possible – a fact proven by science.
In a study done by the University of Copenhagen, researchers took about 60 overweight but healthy men and divided them into two groups. The first half were advised to exercise for an hour a day, wearing a heart-rate monitor and calorie counter, while the second group only had to sweat for 30 minutes. Both groups were to follow their given guidelines for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, all the men had lost an average mean weight of 4 kilograms.
However, upon closer inspection, the researchers found that the men who only had to work up a sweat for 30 minutes a day had lost more weight than those who exercised for a whole hour wearing a heart-rate monitor and calorie counter. 3.6 kg weight loss for 30 minute workout vs 2.7 weight loss for a 1 hour workout (1).
This study’s findings prove that in moderately overweight men, exercising for 30 minutes a day not only burns more calories, but also has greater results than doing the same for a whole hour.
So, is 30 minutes of daily exercise weekly enough for weight loss? It absolutely is. As long as you give your all during that half hour, the scale will quickly start going down.
Is 30 Minutes Of Exercise A Day Enough To Gain Muscle?
Yes, it is. Here is how it works.
As a beginner to working out, you still build muscle even if you are not aware of the fact. This little known fact is why most people looking to lose weight always wonder why they look like they’ve shed some weight but the scale either remains stagnant or slowly starts to creep up again. In spite of this, a beginner can easily build some subtle muscle even with just 30 minutes of exercise a day.
But what about an intermediate or seasoned gym goer, can they still build muscle or work on their endurance with a 30-minute workout?
Yes, but unlike with beginners, your intensity at your workout matters.
According to Aaptiv, if your fitness goals are bigger muscles or better endurance, then you should aim to hit the 1 hour mark on your workout session – but only if your workouts are done at a moderate intensity. Since your body is used to working out, exercising at a low or moderate intensity for 30 minutes will not give you the desired results.
However, if you were to push yourself and do some vigorous-intensity physical activities – like lifting heavier, running on an incline (or an actual hill), doing HIIT etc. – then you can reach your goal without spending hours at the gym (6).
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How To Make Sure That You Maximize Your 30-Minute Workout For Optimal Results
Because half an hour is quite a short amount of time, you must make sure to use this time well or else you will not be getting the best out of this workout session. Here are some tips to help you out
- Plan your workout ahead of time – This not only saves on time, but it also helps your workout flow more smoothly. Plan your workout by setting out your clothes and other gear out, write down all the moves you need to do (in sets and reps if possible) – if using a video, watch it the night before so you can have an idea of what’s to come, and finally have some water at hand.
- Switch things up – Doing the same routine over and over can be boring. Break up your days into different things to keep matters interesting and avoid overtraining one muscle group.
- Sleep more – Lack of sleep has been shown to derail weight loss efforts and increase your risk of obesity (3, 2).
- Eat on a calorie deficit – Calculate your calorie deficit to ensure that you eat less calories than your body needs. Make sure that your meals are healthy.
Is 30 Minutes Of Walking A Day Enough Exercise To Stay Fit?
Yes, walking 30 minutes a day is enough to help you stay fit. Doing this helps increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce menstrual pain, boost muscle power and endurance, and improve mental health (7).
Is 30 Minutes Of Walking A Day Enough Exercise For Weight Loss?
Types Of Workout To Do In 30 Minutes
Some simple exercises that you can do in half an hour include
- A full-body HIIT workout
- Jumping rope
- A combination of bodyweight workouts like squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, pull-ups, deadlifts, glute bridges, etc.
The Bottom Line: Is 30 Minutes Of Exercise Enough?
Whether you are looking to keep fit, lose weight, gain muscle or just boost your endurance, 30 minutes of exercise is enough to help you do all this. The only other thing that matters in your success is the intensity of your workouts so make sure you are dripping in sweat by the end of the half hour. Be sure to also rest, sleep enough, and consume a healthy diet for peak results.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 30 minutes of daily exercise does the trick: Same effect in half the time (2012, sciencedaily.com)
- Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2021, health.gov)
- Why Do We Love a 30 Minute Workout So Much? (n.d., aaptiv.com)
- Why Walk? Why Not! (2020, cdc.gov)