This 20-Minute Morning Walking Workout Helps Boost Your Metabolism

When you think of HIIT workouts, low-impact walking may not be the first exercise that comes to mind. But incorporating a brisk stroll between body-weight exercises can be a surprisingly challenging cardio activity with a bunch of bonuses for your health, especially when you do it in the morning.

A morning walking workout can help prepare you to face the day. (Image: Corina Marie Howell/Image Source/GettyImages)

Health Benefits of Walking

A swift stride can indeed ramp up your heart rate and torch calories — anywhere between 120 and 222 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your weight and pace, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Combined with a healthy diet, walking can be an effective strategy to lose or maintain weight.

Exercise is even more effective when paired with a healthy diet. Download the MyPlate app to track your calories consumed and burned for a complete picture of your overall health.

But that's not all. Walking boasts a host of other benefits, including increased cardiovascular fitness, reduced risk of heart disease, improved management of conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, says Ryan Fairman, ACSM-certified personal trainer, exercise physiologist and trainer with Hylete.

Not to mention, walking can be a great alternative for people who can't tolerate high-impact activities like running due to joint or muscular pain or orthopedic issues, Fairman says.

Why You Should Walk in the Morning

And walking in the a.m. is especially beneficial. A July 2019 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that exercising in the morning resulted in more weight loss than hitting the gym in the evening. What's more, if you work out before eating breakfast, you can increase fat loss and improve your blood glucose levels, according to a March 2017 study published in Sports Medicine.

In addition, getting active first thing ensures that you prioritize your workouts rather than risking the day becoming too busy or stressful to fit in a sweat session, says Fairman, who adds that an early morning walk can also set you up for a productive day, since aerobic exercise helps to improve cognitive function and increase energy.

Try This 20-Minute Walking Workout

Ready to roll out of bed and start your day with a stroll? Here's a quick, 20-minute walking workout from Fairman that you can do outdoors or on the treadmill. The best part? You'll burn even more calories and boost your metabolism thanks to body-weight intervals.

  • 3 minutes: Warm up at a pace between 3 and 4 mph
  • 1 minute: Do body-weight squats.
  • 3 minutes: Walk at a pace between 3 and 4 mph.
  • 1 minute: Do an elevated plank with knee raise.
  • 3 minutes: Walk at a pace between 3 and 4 mph (get as close to 4 mph as you can).
  • 1 minute: Do hand claps.
  • 3 minutes: Walk at a pace between 3 and 4 mph.
  • 1 minute: Do windmills.
  • 4 minutes: Cool down at a pace between 2 and 3 mph.

Move 1: Body-Weight Squat

  1. Start with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Move your hips down and back, bending at the knees as if you're going to sit in a chair.
  3. Once you get to a comfortable position at the bottom of the movement, press through your heels to stand up and return to standing.

Move 2: Elevated Plank With Knee Raise

  1. Start with your hands about shoulder-width apart on a bench or elevated surface, arms straight and body in a plank.
  2. Move one knee toward the chest.
  3. Return leg to the starting position and switch legs.
  4. For more of a challenge, increase your pace.

Move 3: Hand Claps

  1. From standing, raise both arms in front of you at approximately shoulder height.
  2. Bring your arms out to your sides, then back to starting position in front of you as if you're clapping.
  3. For more of a challenge, increase your pace.

Move 4: Windmill

  1. Start with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise both arms overhead, then slightly rotate your trunk and reach your right arm down to your left foot.
  3. Return to the starting position and alternate.
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