Forget running — this 20-minute walking workout boosts your metabolism

Woman walking on a treadmill during treadmill walking workout
(Image credit: Getty/ Thana Prasongsin)

I’m not a fan of treadmills. There, I said it. And while I can think of a million other ways I prefer exercising without running, this treadmill power walk workout is a low-impact and challenging way to do cardio.

Thanks to TikTok, several treadmill workouts are going viral. And whichever way you tackle cardio, using one of the best treadmills on the market will help you reach your fitness goals. 

Research conducted by Harvard has shown that 7,500 steps a day could offer similar benefits of exercise to the magic 10,000 steps. So, to celebrate National Walking Day, we designed this 20-minute power walk walking workout to boost your metabolism, improve mood and burn calories just by stepping one foot in front of the other. Get ready to get sweaty without running. 

Does walking count as exercise?  

Walking doesn’t get the credit it deserves in my book. The benefits of walking extend beyond the satisfying achievement of closing your Apple watch rings to include building stronger bones and muscles and improving cardiovascular fitness. And a brisk walk could boost your metabolism, calorie burn, and mood. 

Mental health charity Mind reckons walking in nature can even improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, if your interest is piqued, here’s what 30 minutes of walking each day can do for your body.

The World Health Organization recommends at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity a week, but one in three women and one in four men aren’t hitting those numbers. Granted, we can’t all get outdoors for a stroll (although this 15-minute walking workout boosts your mood and calorie burn if you can), but the treadmill could be your answer. 

20-minute treadmill walking workout  

Bumbling along on a treadmill doesn’t need to be mind-numbingly boring. Take the Taylor Swift treadmill strut as an example. 

The treadmill workout, devised by TikToker Alice Bennett in 2022, took social media by storm and stole the hearts of Swifties everywhere. It involves strutting along for 36 minutes to Taylor Swift songs (no, really, it’s that simple) and garnered millions of views by incrementally adding speed as you move through the playlist. 

At the heart of it, you’re hitting a solid 35-minute walking workout, having fun (and probably a sing-along), while doing wonders for your physical and mental health. 

During this treadmill walking workout, experiment with your pace and hill climbs to make it challenging. If you’re new to exercise or returning from injury, check with a medical professional before starting a new exercise regime. 

Woman running on Mobvoi Home Treadmill Incline

(Image credit: Mobvoi)

EMOM15 (every minute on the minute) 

Begin with a gentle five-minute warm-up to warm the muscles and prepare for exercise. Every 30 seconds, increase your pace until you hit a brisk power walk during the last minute. 

Remember that pace is personal, so focus on RPE (rate of perceived exertion). These are guidelines, so adapt the speed to suit your fitness level, but try and stick to the inclines. Minute one should be your lowest effort, minute eight should reach a 5/10 RPE, and minute 15 should be a solid max 8-9/10 effort.


  • Minute 1: Walk on a flat road at 1 mph
  • Every 30 seconds: Increase the incline by 1%
  • Every minute: Increase speed by 0.3-0.4 mph 
  • Once you reach your briskest power walk without jogging: Maintain your speed for the remaining time
  • Once you hit the maximum incline: Maintain the incline for the remaining time. 

To achieve a 40-minute treadmill walking workout, work back down minute-by-minute. Simple. EMOM means changing it up every minute, on the minute, so try to be timely as you adjust.

Benefits of walking

Woman going for a walking workout in nature wearing activewear

(Image credit: Getty images)

According to the NHS, “brisk” walking for 10 minutes could build stamina, burn calories, boost metabolism, and improve heart health. Moreover, a study published by Harvard has shown that rhythmically using your muscles — called “muscle meditation” — could reduce stress levels. The repetitive nature of walking brings on a meditative state and allows the mind to wander, relieving stress and boosting happy thoughts. 

Walking at speed and incline adds intensity to walking, helping to increase heart rate and accelerate calorie burn. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) refers to total daily caloric expenditure and workouts only account for a small proportion. The more you move, the more calories you burn. The more you walk, the more movement you accumulate. 

Looking for more ways to walk yourself healthier? We got you covered.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.