20-Minute Brisk Walking Workout

Couple Brisk Walking
Couple Brisk Walking. Kali Nine LLC/E+/Getty Images

Take a 20-minute brisk walking workout to burn calories and slash your health risks. One 20-minute brisk walk per day will boost you from the deadly "inactive" category. A 20-minute brisk walk will cover at least one mile. It will burn 70 to 100 calories, depending on your weight. You will add 2000 to 3000 steps to your daily step count.

A large study showed that you could reduce your risk of early death by as much as 30 percent with a brisk 20-minute walk each day.

See how to do this workout and then extend it to a 30-minute brisk walk as is recommended for daily exercise.

What is Brisk Walking?

To count as brisk walking, the CDC says it should be at a 20 minutes per mile pace (3 mph) or more. More precisely, your heart rate should be in the moderate intensity zone, defined by the CDC as being from 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Find out what pulse rate matches this zone for your age with the target heart rate charts. Take your pulse after a few minutes of brisk walking to see whether you are in a moderate intensity zone for your age. Your breathing should be heavier than usual, but you should still be able to speak in full sentences.

20-Minute Brisk Walking Workout

Your goal is to walk for 20 continuous minutes at a brisk pace of 15 to 20 minutes per mile (3-4 mph) with your heart rate at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can use this workout on a treadmill or outdoors.

  1. Get Ready to Walk: If you have been sitting for awhile, you will want to loosen up for a minute before you go for a walk. Stand up start at the top with a few shrugs and shoulder circles to loosen your neck and shoulders. If you like a full stretching routine, use the walking warm-up stretches
  2. Posture for Brisk Walking: Posture is the key to brisk walking, as it will not only allow you to speed up to a brisk pace, but the right posture enables you to breathe deeply. Stand up straight, suck in your gut, tuck in your butt, eyes forward and chin parallel to the ground. See more details about achieving the right walking posture.
  1. Walk at an Easy Pace for 1 to 3 Minutes: This warm-up period at an easy pace allows you to adjust your walking posture and gets the blood flowing into your leg muscles. You may want to extend this easy pace if you still feel muscle or join stiffness.
  2. Speed up to a Brisk Pace for 20 Minutes: As you speed up, use arm motion to set your walking pace. Your feet will move as fast as your arms move. See more about using walking arm motion.
  3. Take your exercise pulse after two minutes to see if you are in the moderate intensity zone. If you are not yet in the zone, speed up your arm motion to pick up the pace. Check again every five minutes. Pay attention to how hard you are breathing when you are in the moderate-intensity zone so you can gauge it without taking your pulse.
  4. Cool Down for 1 to 3 Minutes: Finish your walk by walking at an easy pace. You may want to end with the stretching routine.

When Should You Take a 20-Minute Brisk Walk?

Find the best time to make them part of your daily schedule.

  • Morning: a brisk walk before work or while walking the dog.
  • Work breaks or lunch: a brisk walk is perfect for breaking up long bouts of sitting at work or school.
  • Afternoon: blow out the stress with a brisk walk

    Enjoy two brisk walks, five days per week and you will achieve the minimum recommended level of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise needed for good health.

    30-Minute Brisk Walking Workout

    Once you have become accustomed to taking a 20-minute brisk walk, begin to extend your time at the brisk pace. Begin by adding five more minutes at the brisk pace. Once you are used to that, take it up to 30 minutes of brisk walking. At this level, you are achieving the minimum amount of moderate-intensity exercise recommended to reduce health risks. A 30-minute brisk walk, five or more days per week, is also recommended for people with diabetes and osteoarthritis.

    Do You Have Difficulty Getting Into the Brisk Walking Zone?

    • Not walking fast enough: Use the tips for how to walk faster to pick up your pace.
    • If you are very fit, a walking pace may not be enough to reach the moderate-intensity zone and you may need to add incline to a treadmill workout or using a route with hills and stairs for an outdoor workout. If that still doesn't work, you may need to switch to running.
    • If you can't walk fast or jog, using fitness walking poles or Nordic walking can raise your heart rate at a slower pace.
    • Wrong shoes and clothing to walk faster: Stiff shoes or flimsy sneakers don't allow your feet to move correctly for a powerful walking stride Get fitted for flat and flexible athletic shoes at the best running shoe store in your area. Your walking clothing needs to give you good freedom of movement and wick away sweat. Jeans or dress clothing are often too restrictive and don't allow your legs to move faster.

    A Word From Verywell

    Finding the time to add a brisk walk to your day might be a challenge, but it will have benefits in reducing your health risks. Whether you use a treadmill or walk outdoors, you will be getting the exercise recommended for a healthier and longer life.

    Sources:

    CDC. Measuring Physical Activity Intensity.

    CDC. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?

    Ekelund U, Ward HA, et. al. "Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC)." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. March 2015 ajcn.100065. First published January 14, 2015, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.114.100065

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