Cardio Workouts in 20 Minutes or Less

Here are 10 ideas for getting a good cardio workout in 20 minutes or less. If you do one of these every day I guarantee you will notice a difference in your health. Twice a day and there will be no stopping you!

Go for a walk outside and breathe some fresh air (hopefully you live where the air is clean). Strike out and walk away from home for 5 (or 7, or 10) minutes and turn around and walk back. Walk as briskly as your current condition allows while keeping your abs tight and your head held high. For a more productive workout, every few minutes pick up the speed even more and swing your arms so you are moving at a speed you can only maintain for 30 – 60 seconds, then slow back down to your brisk pace and let your heart rate recover. After a few minutes do your speed interval again. If this is too easy, jog, run, or sprint instead. An alternative to running would be to find a place with stairs and take those as quickly as possible to provide your intense interval.

Go for a walk inside – walk in place, around the house, up and down the stairs for at least 10 minutes.  Use your arms to help get your heart rate up. If you want some guidance use one of Leslie Sansone’s videos to help you out. You can find some on YouTube here   and here  and then purchase longer ones if you like it. I have several friends who have done her routines and love them.

If you have fitness equipment such as a treadmill, elliptical, exercise bike, etc. put it to use! I know they can be boring, but commit to just 10 or 12 minutes of intervals and the time will pass quickly. Warm up at a moderate pace for 2 or 3 minutes , then increase the speed and sprint (just go as fast as you can) for 30 seconds. Slow back down for 1 – 2 minutes while your heart rate recovers and then sprint again. Repeat this process for at least 10 minutes and cool down at a moderate pace for the last couple of minutes.

If you own a bicycle and live near a bike trail – head out for a short spin. Remember, this is about getting in some good cardio, so for ten minutes at least really work it. Ride along at a constant moderate to quick pace and every few minutes sprint for 30 seconds or more, or instead of sprinting head for a hill and climb it as quickly as possible

If you have access to a pool or lake in the summer, go for a swim. Swimming is a great aerobic exercise that is easy on the joints. Do some steady laps alternating with some swimming sprints when you go as fast as you can.

If you would like to just follow a trainer for some intense but short cardio workouts here are some great online videos:

Do you have a favorite short cardio workout you can share with the rest of us? Please tell us about it in the comment section.

Related post:  Week Seven: Let’s Get Moving!


  1. I love SparkPeople, what a great site to help with the weight loss journey as well as get tons of great tips. Trying to make sure I am constantly moving even when I’m just watching T.V, Now instead of sitting on the couch vegging out, I lay on the floor and do leg lifts or stretch and then during commercials I do sit-ups or something like that. I don’t watch a lot of t.v. anymore but it helps keep me moving when I do.

    • Great idea! We only watch tv a couple of time a week but it would be a great time to get in an upper and/or lower body workout. I’ll have to start keeping some weights or a resistance band by my chair to remind me. It is also a good time to do some gentle stretching to cut down on those middle of the night aches and pains.

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