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 large study showed that you could reduce your risk of early death by as much as 30% with a brisk 20-minute walk each day.
More: A 20-Minute Brisk Walk Each Day Could Save Your Life

A 20-minute brisk walk will cover at least one mile and burn 70-100 calories, depending on your weight.

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% of your maximum heart rate.

Find out what pulse rate matches this zone for your age with our target heart rate calculator. 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.

Walking Goal: 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% - 70% of your maximum heart rate. You can use this workout on a treadmill or outdoors.

Walking Workout

  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 our Walking Warm-Up Stretches
  1. 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. More: 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. More: 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.

Do You Have Difficulty Getting Into the Brisk Walking Zone?

  • 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.

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 a couple of 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.
More: How Much Exercise Do You Need?

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