Finding time for fitness can be difficult, but this 20 minute interval walking workout shouldn’t be too difficult to fit into anyone’s day. It uses 3 levels of speed that you alternate between, so that you can get maximum benefits in the 20 minutes. The walk starts at normal pace, then you do 4 minutes at a medium pace, followed by 4 fast minutes. This fast walking gets your heart rate up for cardio training benefits. After this, you gradually slow back down to normal walking pace. The three levels are:
Level 1 – a normal walking pace. This is about 3mph for most people. The walk begins and ends at Level 1.
Level 2 – a bit faster. At this level you should be breathing a little more heavily and feeling warmer. This would be about 3.75mph for the average person.
At Level 3, you should be starting to feel “out of breath” – holding a conversation is more difficult at this level. For the average person, level 3 is about 4.5mph.
20 minute walking workout: the 5 intervals
- Start with 4 minutes walking at level 1.
- Pick up the pace to level 2, so that you are getting warmer for 4 minutes.
- You should be ready for level 3 now. Increase the speed a bit more, so that you feel a little out of breath.
- After 4 minutes at level 3, go back down to level 2. You’ll find that for the first minute or so your body is recovering from level 3, so your heart rate and breathing will still be faster. Stay at level 2 for 4 minutes.
- Finally, the last 4 minutes is at level 1, to cool down.
Planning a walking route
You’ll need to have some sort of idea of your walking route, to make sure you end up back home or wherever you want to be after 20 minutes. To plan the route, you need to know how much distance you will cover. This will vary from person to person depending on what your actual walking speed at the different levels are. For example, one person might start to breathe more heavily and get warm at 3.75 mph, while for someone else it could be 4mph. But we’ll take the average speeds given above to work out the distance, which should give a walk of around 20 minutes for most people.
8 minutes at level 1 speed of 3mph would be 0.4 miles
8 minutes at level 2 speed of 3.75mph would be 0.5 miles
4 minutes at level 3 speed 4mph would be 0.3 miles
You therefore want to plan a route of about 1.2 miles. There are plenty of online route planners you can use. See here for a tutorial using mapometer.com.
You will probably find when you try the walk that the distance isn’t exactly right and your final interval isn’t exactly 4 minutes, due to individual differences in walking speeds. This doesn’t really matter if it’s only out by a couple of minutes. If it’s a long way out, then double check the effort descriptions for the 3 levels and make sure you are keeping to them. If you’re still a long way off 20 minutes, then adjust your route up or down as needed.
Progressing your walking workout
If possible, do the walk 3 or 4 times a week. As you get fitter, your walking speeds will get faster, which means you’ll cover more distance in the time. After a while therefore, you’ll need to adjust your walk distance to be a bit longer. Apart from increasing your walking speed and distance, other ways of progressing a walking workout are:
- Walk more often
- Increase the time you spend walking
- Choose a hilly route, or one with uneven surface
- Carry some extra weight
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