Recipe for Fitness

Your Workout is Too Long! 5 Reasons to Workout 20 Minutes a Day

These last couple of weeks I’ve been reminded what it’s like to work full time outside of the home while trying to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of a stay at home mom. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say it’s exhausting! To anyone considering going to work after staying at home for an extended period of time, let me give you a piece of unsolicited advice – hire help! I think the only way to do it all is, frankly, to NOT do it all.

That being said, I’m not taking my own advice, as evidenced by my grimy bathroom counters and smeared mirrors. However, there is one area of my life where I just don’t compromise, working full time, or not, and that is my fitness routine. After five and a half years of exercising 20 minutes every day, I always find time to fit it in.

I know for my fellow workout addicts, only exercising for 20 minutes is going to feel like you’re cheating. You will think it’s not enough. I assure you, it is. In fact, 20 minutes is the ideal amount of time to workout in my humble opinion and here’s why:

Top 5 Reasons to Workout Everyday for 20 Minutes

1. No excuse is good enough to get you out of a 20 minute workout. So you say you have to catch an early flight? Get up 20 minutes earlier. You have a big presentation at work? Great – gather your thoughts during your 20 minute workout. You’re on a very rocky cruise ship and it’s hard to walk straight, let alone exercise? Do it anyway (this was a personal one that led to a 20 minute wog on the treadmill which looked more like an awkward gallop than a walk/jog.) After more than 5 1/2 years, I can guarantee that you can always find 20 minutes in your day to exercise.

2. 20 minutes of a medium to high intensity workout will not leave you feeling famished. When I used to do hour long workouts on a regular basis, for the rest of the day I would be starving and have to eat all day long to finally feel satiated, therefore, negating all the fat burning I had done during the workout. I thought it was only me, but in this New York Times article, they discuss a University of Copenhagen research study which showed the same thing.

3. 20 minutes of daily exercise will give you more energy. Without a daily workout, you can start to feel sluggish and it’s very easy to gain a pound here or a pound there. On the flip side, with an hour long workout, you can find yourself feeling exhausted, wiped out, and too tired to do much physical activity for the rest of the day. A 20 minute workout is just the right amount of time to get your heart pumping, the calories burning, and give you an energy boost to keep you moving throughout your day.

4. A daily 20 minute workout gives you the mental satisfaction that comes along with completing a task. This is the big reason I prefer to workout in the morning. That way, I know as soon as I’m done with my workout, I’ve already checked one thing off my list. That sense of accomplishment gives me a mental boost as I move on to my work. Now I can go through my day with the confidence that I’m already on my way to getting things done.

5. A daily 20 minute workout will help you meet your weight loss or weight maintenance goals. Let’s face it, many of us wouldn’t mind losing a pound or two or twenty, and nearly all of us would like to avoid putting on weight. A daily 20 minute workout combined with eating healthy will help you lose unwanted pounds or maintain a healthy weight if you are there already. As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down and working out 20 minutes a day – especially a workout with weights – can help combat the natural tendency to gain a few pounds each year.

To help get you started with your 20 minute daily workout routine, I’ve come up with a 20 minute workout that I’m calling my Recipe for Fitness. I like to pack as much into my 20 minute workout as I can so I get the biggest bang for my buck. I also don’t want to waste time thinking about what I’m going to do, or to just settle on running on the treadmill for the 20 minutes which I love to do, but which gets boring after awhile. This workout is guaranteed to get your heart pumping, your lungs working, and the sweat beading up.

This 20 minute workout is designed with a cardio and strength component and will work each muscle group. It can be scaled up or down to fit your fitness level, and can be completed at home (with minimal equipment) or in the gym. This workout is meant to give you more energy throughout your day and will challenge you enough that you will feel that you have gotten a good workout.

For this workout, I recommend using a Tabata Timer app set to 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest with 20 reps. This should give you enough time to transition between each exercise. A few suggested ways you can adjust this workout to suit your needs – increase your rest time, increase/decrease your speed and/or incline, and use lighter or heavier weights.

Without further ado, here is your first 20 minute Recipe for Fitness:

[recipe title=”Recipe for Fitness One” time=”20 mins”]

Cardio (Treadmill)

  • Run 2 mins at 6.0/2%
  • Run 1 min at 7.5/5%
  • Run 2 min At 7.0/2%

Cardio (Alternative)

  • Jumping Jacks 1 min
  • Burpees 1 min
  • Jog in Place 1 min
  • Burpees 1 min
  • Jumping Jacks 1 min



  • Bicep curl with overhead press
  • Forward lunge with weights
  • Push ups
  • Leg lifts lying down
  • Elbow plank

Repeat Cardio and Strength


I hope you enjoy today’s first 20 minute Recipe for Fitness! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Your Workout is Too Long! 5 Reasons to Workout 20 Minutes a Day

  1. It took getting mono for me to realize that sometimes more exercise is not the answer. I had to cut my workout times back and surprisingly, I got better results! Great reminder to keep it simple and not overdo!

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