Is Working Out 20 Minutes a Day Enough?

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This translates to around 21 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per day.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This translates to around 21 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per day.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This translates to around 21 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per day. Many studies recommend an added session of resistance exercises (such as lifting weights or doing push-ups two times a week) for preserving your bone and muscle mass.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity includes

  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Pushing a lawnmower

If you cannot spare time for this, you may try getting 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, which is 15 minutes of vigorous activity a day with a two-day break spread over the week. You can perform the following activities:

  • Jogging or running up a slope
  • Swimming laps
  • Riding a bike over hills
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Playing basketball

How long you work out might depend on your goals, body weight, lifestyle, age and overall health. Though the intensity of physical activity is more important than the time duration, research and studies show that 20 minutes of exercise is better than nothing.

  • Any and every bout of physical activity or exercise contributes to a fitter and healthier body.
  • There are plenty of efficient exercise options that will help you burn calories and lose weight in a short time (such as burpees, push-ups or high-intensity interval training [HIIT] .
  • According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 20 minutes of high-intensity activity (leaving you breathless and sweating) is as good as 40 to 45 minutes at a less strenuous pace.
  • Depending on your current level of fitness and ability, 20 minutes can give you a good workout, especially if you have a focus, such as training a specific muscle group, improving your flexibility or mobility or elevating your heart rate.
  • Make sure you engage in high-intensity workouts with proper training gear and warm-up and cool-down exercises.

What are the benefits of a daily 20-minute workout?

A workout should be short and efficient and fit into your life seamlessly while still providing all the same benefits. A few common benefits of daily 20-minute workouts include

Increased energy: Twenty minutes of exercise can get the body revved up and improves blood flow, which helps kick start metabolism and lifts mood.

Reduced levels of stress hormones:

  • When there is ongoing stress (and not enough sleep), the body releases cortisol (a stress hormone) that can cause blood sugar to be elevated, disrupt work productivity, interfere with sleep and do much more. A lower level of cortisol in the body is good for happiness and productivity.
  • Apart from reducing stress hormone levels, a 20-minute workout may increase the production of chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are considered as feel-good hormones.

Improved brain health (long term):

  • In addition to serotonin and dopamine released during 1exercise, a chemical called neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is also released.
  • BDNF can also help protect the brain from emotional disorders and depression caused by long-term stress.
  • In 20 minutes of exercise, the brain produces a hormone called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA.
  • GABA is a key neurohormone that helps promote relaxation and triggers serotonin production.

What is the best exercise for a daily 20-minute workout?

A Tabata workout is a high-intensity workout that you can opt for to reduce weight faster and increase your metabolism. According to research by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), Tabata can burn up to 15 calories per minute.

  • All the exercise in a Tabata workout needs to be carried out for only four minutes. However, you must push yourself extremely hard for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. This completes one set.
  • You need to complete eight such sets for each exercise. You can choose any kind of exercise for the Tabata workout.
  • A Tabata workout consists of strength and aerobic exercises that work the entire body as opposed to just one set of muscles.
  • The exercises include warm-ups, side shuffles, shoulder rotations, etc. and gradually moves on to cardio exercises and then strength exercises, such as push-ups.
  • There can also be combination exercises where one has complete sets of various workouts, such as burpees, lunges, and kettlebell squats. 
  • This can be extremely tiring but one must push themselves to reap the maximum benefits.

Here is the 20-minute workout protocol.

Round 1

  • High knees
  • Plank punches
  • Jumping jacks
  • Side skaters

Round 2

  • Jump rope
  • High or low boat
  • Line jumps
  • Push-ups

Round 3

  • Burpees
  • Russian twists
  • Squats
  • Lunges

Round 4

  • Mountain climbers
  • Push-ups
  • Split squats
  • Box jumps

Tabata, in essence, is a short, build-your-own adventure fitness regimen that will produce a good calorie burn and afterglow in a period that almost anyone can accommodate. It is cost-effective, fun and super challenging and, by adhering to the 20:10 principle, produces remarkable results. Intense workouts carry a greater risk of dehydration, so keep your water handy and ensure that you refuel with a post-workout snack, if needed. If you are a beginner, start with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase your potential toward a high-intensity regimen, such as Tabata. If you eat a good diet and maintain a regular regimen of 20-minute workouts, you should see results within 45 days.


Walking can maintain your body weight and lower many health risks. True or false? See Answer
UW Health: "Is 20 Minutes of Exercise Enough?"

WebMD: "The 4-Minute Fat-Loss Workout."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?" https://www.cdc.go/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm