Only have 15-minutes to walk? No problem! You can maximize the 15 minutes you have with this 15-minute walking workout. This workout uses intervals to vary the speed of your walk so you can get the benefits of fast walking without needing to walk fast the entire time.
Short walks can be just as beneficial as longer walks and can make it easier to get your minimum recommended 30 minutes of daily walking in. You can adjust the length of this walking workout based on the time you have available. Simply add or subtract intervals as necessary – but make sure not to skip the warmup or cooldown to avoid injury. Now, on to the workout!
What is interval training?
Interval training is a form of exercise where you mix short periods of more intense exercise with rest periods where your body can recover. Interval training allows you to burn more calories and get more intense in short time windows. You’ll get much of the benefits of intense walking without the stress of being super intense for long periods of time. Intervals are no magic bullet, however. You’ll burn more calories than a regular walk but intervals may need to be paired with a healthy lifestyle to reach your fitness goals.
During each fast walking interval, try to push yourself but stay within reason and stay safe! If you’re a beginning walker or simply aren’t feeling it that day, feel free to reduce the duration of your fast walking intervals and increase the duration of your moderate walking intervals. You can also skip an interval if you’re feeling tired to get a double rest period. Of course, if you’re able you can try to work your way up to hitting all of the fast intervals for maximum benefits!
How fast should I walk?
The intervals below don’t give you a specific walking speed for a specific reason: What’s fast walking for one person may be moderate walking for another. It’s important not to overexert yourself and risk injuries or overtraining.
***If you’re just starting out a walking routine or if you have any health conditions, make sure to consult a doctor before trying a fast walking workout.
Our moderate intensity intervals should be on the lower end of your basic brisk walking speed. This means that your heart rate should be around 50-70% of its maximum. You should be able to carry on a conversation, but not be able to sing the words to a song. Breathing should be faster than normal, but you shouldn’t feel out of breath. Many experts consider 2.5-4 mph brisk walking, but this depends on your fitness level, age, and other factors. Remember that you’ll be increasing your speed for the fast sections, so you don’t want to walk so fast during the moderate sections that you’re exhausted!
Fast walking intervals should be on the higher end of brisk walking. The New York Times defines brisk walking as about 100 steps per minute, while vigorous walking is about 130 steps per minute (jogging would be 140). 130 steps per minute may be around 4 mph. If you’re a fit, experienced walker then you can push yourself to that level. Beginner walkers may want to try for the brisk walking standard of being able to talk but not sing as their fast pace.
Use this 15-minute walking workout to maximize your walk. Make sure not to skip the warm-up or cool-down to avoid injury!
0:00-3:00 Minutes: Warm-up
Walk at a leisurely pace to warm-up and loosen your joints and muscles. Avoid the temptation to go right into fitness walking before you’re ready. The intervals will maximize your intensity and distance, allowing you to use this time to warm up properly.
3:00-5:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
Increase your intensity to the lower end of brisk walking. You’re walking a bit faster now, and preparing your body for the fast walking intervals to come.
5:00-6:00 Minutes: Fast Walking
Increase your speed to a faster brisk pace that you can still sustain for a minute. You could also break into a light jog if you’re very experienced, but a brisk walk will do wonders for most people. Intervals can get intense, so don’t go too fast on your first try until you’ve gotten a feel as to how it affects your body.
6:00-8:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
Return to your moderate walking pace to rest and recover. This is a short walk, so keeping up a fairly brisk pace for the recovery portion can maximize your steps walked. If you went a bit too fast during the fast walking portion and you’re a bit winded, you can walk slower or skip the next interval to recover.
8:00-9:00 Minutes: Fast Walking
Return to your fast walking pace. Make sure to keep up proper form to prevent injuries. There’s 1 more interval to go, so don’t tire yourself too much during this minute.
9:00-11:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
Return to moderate walking to rest up for your final interval. Again, if you’re feeling winded you can always skip the last interval and finish at a moderate pace.
11:00-12:00 Minutes: Fast Walking
Pick up the pace one more time for our final fast walking interval. You can push yourself a bit more if you’re feeling good because our walk is almost over. Of course, make sure you stay within your limits and don’t stress yourself too hard.
12:00-13:00 Minutes: Moderate Walking
Return to a moderate pace before starting our cooldown. Cooling down gradually can help your body adjust to the slower cool-down pace.
13:00-15:00 Minutes: Cool-down
Finish up your walk with a few minutes of leisurely cool-down walking. Pay attention to how your body feels as you’re cooling down. If you feel soreness in any particular areas, make a mental note (or even better write it down) and consider getting it checked out (if serious) or thinking of ways to strengthen or protect those areas. For instance, if you notice your feet are sore, you may want to consider upgrading your walking shoes or looking into socks or insoles.
Adjustments you can make to this workout
You can easily adjust this workout in many different ways.
Increase/decrease the interval times
If a minute of fast walking is difficult, you can decrease the fast portions to 30 seconds and increase the moderate walking portions accordingly. This gives you more time to rest and relax. If you’re thinking of adding jogging instead of fast walking, definitely start out with very short fast periods and longer moderate periods to recover better from the intense workouts. If you feel like you can do more, you can increase the fast walking times and decrease the moderate walking times to pick up the intensity. The moderate walking times allow you to hit those bursts of fast walking, so try not to eliminate them completely (you can fast walk the entire time, but that wouldn’t be an interval workout).
Adjust your walking speed
If you feel the workout is too intense, you can simply decrease the speed of each section. You can always make the “fast” portion a moderate walk, and the “moderate” portions a leisurely walk to rest. Alternatively, you can increase the pace of the “fast” segments to get more intense. Your warm-up and cool-down SHOULD NOT be super intense, or you defeat the purpose and risk injury. The moderate walking portion should also not be too intense, or else you’re essentially doing a longer fast walk and not intervals. That can be fine as well if that’s what you want to do.
Add in terrain or other factors
If you have inclines that you can walk, or if you’re on a treadmill, you can try adding incline walking instead of fast walking during the fast walking segments. Unless you’re a very experienced walker, you probably don’t want to do fast inclines as that would be very intense and may add additional impact on your joints.
The most important thing you can do as a walker is to walk safely, prevent injuries and stay within your limits. If you feel out of breath, light-headed or experience chest pains make sure to stop immediately and see a doctor if the symptoms are serious or if they persist after stopping.
Walking is great for your health, but ultimately walking is only a competition against yourself. Don’t try to walk faster because you’re trying to match someone else’s time, or because you want to reach a specific speed. Build up your endurance gradually, and you’ll get the great benefits of walking in as safe a manner as possible.
A dedicated walking workout can be a great way to maximize your steps and burn the most calories in the short time you have available. It can also make walking more interesting as you have specific tasks to go for at different times in your walk. Get creative and you can find a walking workout that matches the right intensity and duration for you on the terrain you have available. You’ll hit that 10,000 step goal (or whatever your goal is) before you know it!
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