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Running 20 Minutes a Day: 7 Benefits + How to Get Started

Running 20 minutes a day might sound like a lot of exercise to some, or not much to others. However, just about anyone can benefit from daily, 20 minute runs. The key is consistency with both running and recovery, while maintaining enough balance to avoid injury and overtraining.

Is running 20 minutes a day enough exercise?

The answer to whether running 20 minutes a day is enough exercise depends on your age, current fitness level and long-term goals. Sedentary people who are used to very little daily activity will find that adding a 20 minute run is plenty of exercise to improve their fitness and speed up weight loss.

On the contrary, long distance runners who regularly train for half or full marathons might find that 20 minutes a day is not nearly enough time to adequately train for their goals.

In general, though, running 20 minutes a day is enough exercise for those who are simply hoping to maintain general health and fitness.

Is a 20 minute run effective?

A 20 minute run can be incredibly effective – if you structure it correctly. The structure of the run will depend on your specific goals and fitness level, but making the most out of the 20 minutes is key to its effectiveness.

In order to accomplish any running goal, a 20 minute run will need to include a brief warm up and cool down, as well as a period of more intense effort.

How to start running for 20 minutes?

Whether you’ve never run before or are simply hoping to increase your running frequency to daily, creating any new habit comes with its hurdles. The best way to start running for 20 minutes is to be consistent. Sticking with it in the beginning will be hard some days, but consistency is key to success.

Start small and work your way up to a 20 minute run. In the beginning, many runners are only able to run for a minute or two at a time. Find out where your current fitness lies, and start there. Gradually and over time, add a minute or two to your running time until you reach the full 20 minutes.

7 Benefits of Running 20 Minutes a Day

Running 20 minutes a day has many benefits. It’s not too long to run the risk of overtraining or injury, but is still enough to get your heart pumping and help improve your health. Sticking with a 20 minute run every day helps runs stay consistent to maintain motivation over time. Here are 7 of the most promising benefits.

Encourages weight loss

The simple act of getting 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day means that you are burning more calories than if you were sedentary or even walking during that time. Running increases the heart rate to therefore burn calories for the duration of the activity.

For those who are hoping to lose weight, running for 20 minutes a day will burn anywhere from 150 – 300 calories. These calories add up over time, encouraging more weight loss and helping to improve metabolism.

Boosts the immune system

Daily exercise has repeatedly been proven to have health boosting effects – including improving the immune system. Running 20 minutes every day increases your daily physical activity, strengthening the heart, muscles, ligaments and bones to improve your full body health and boost protection against minor illness.

Helps relieve stress

Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. A simple 20 minute run provides time away from daily activities to spend in silence. This time is rare in a society that is constantly on the go, and the time alone combined with sweat-released endorphins is often enough to really improve your mood.

Encourages other healthy habits

Many runners are surprised to discover that adding running to their life encouraged the beginning of many other healthy habits. You might feel so good after a 20 minute run that you are motivated to swap a post-run treat with a smoothie or healthier option. Before long, you might find that you’re drinking more water, getting more sleep and making healthier choices in general.

Strengthens muscles and bones

The physical act of running requires strength and endurance – and the more often you do it, the stronger you’ll get. Running 20 minutes a day is a great way to consistently ensure you fit in a run, without doing so much that your body lacks time to recover.

Improves cardiovascular health

Running is a form of cardio, meaning that it increases your heart rate and requires the cardiovascular system to work harder to complete. As your heart pumps faster, it will gain practice to become more efficient and potentially stronger over time.

Increases motivation

Creating a daily running habit, even with something as simple as a 20 minute run, is a great way to maintain motivation. The more days you complete in a row, the more likely you’ll be to want to stick with it and continue.

Here are the benefits of running 20 minutes a day – and why you should try it. Check out how to get started with a 20 minute run!

How to Start Jogging 20 Minutes a Day

Getting started is often the hardest part. Starting from scratch, or even moving from running every other day to every day, can be challenging. However, after the first few weeks, running or jogging 20 minutes a day will start to feel normal. Here are a few tips to get started with a daily 20 minute run.

Start small

Although your goal may be a 20 minute run, it’s important to remember that you have to start somewhere. Take time to evaluate your current fitness level – if you are only able to run for one or two minutes at a time, start there. Spend time starting with what you can, and over time gradually continue to increase the length of your runs until you reach 20 minutes.

Go slow

As you begin this new habit, you’ll want to take things slow. While you may feel extra motivated and excited in the beginning, it’s essential that you not let this get the best of you. Start slow, and don’t focus on running pace. Complete your 20 minute run at a pace that feels easy and comfortable. After a few days, you’ll be able to see how your body responds and recovers before deciding whether or not to increase the pace.

Listen to your body

Be sure to observe your body and take note of how easily and quickly it is recovering after each run. If you’re heading out for a run and are still sore or tired from the day before, it’s a sign that your body didn’t have time to recover. If this is the case, it might be a sign that you need to slow down or take things easier until your fitness improves.

Prioritize recovery

Whether or not running for 20 minutes sounds like a lot, doing it every day can still take a toll on the body. Running for any length of time every single day requires recovery. Spend time stretching, doing some gentle yoga poses, or foam rolling to avoid overtraining or injuries.

Find a motivation system

Sticking with a new habit can be challenging – especially in the beginning. Establishing some sort of motivation system is key to making it through the obstacles and low moments. Whether you share updates with a friend, run with a buddy, or create a reward system for yourself, finding some way to stay motivated when you feel like skipping is key.

Invest in good shoes

Just about anyone can run these days by simply heading out their door. And while most gear and gadgets aren’t necessary for a 20 minute run, a good pair of running shoes are. Investing in a good pair of shoes and getting properly fitted will help avoid injury over time.

Running 20 minutes a day requires a lot of consistency – but each run itself does not take much time. In order to make a 20 minute run effective, you’ll want to make sure it is purposeful. In such a short amount of time, this usually means planning down to the minute.

Sample 20 Minute Runs

Try these sample 20 minute runs to structure your own workouts and get the most out of running 20 minutes a day. Use them as a guide to create your own workouts, or follow them exactly each week.

20 Minute Recovery/Easy Run

  • Warm up @ slow, easy pace: 5 minutes
  • Easy running @ recovery pace: 10 minutes
  • Cool down @ slow, easy pace: 5 minutes

20 Minute Tempo Run

  • Warm up @ slow, easy pace: 3 minutes
  • Tempo run @ moderately hard pace: 14 minutes
  • Cool down @ slow, easy pace: 3 minutes

20 Minute Interval Run

  • Warm up @ slow, easy pace: 3 minutes
  • Interval #1 @ hard, threshold pace: 2 minutes
  • Recovery @ slow, easy pace: 1 minute
  • Interval #2 @ hard, threshold pace: 2 minutes
  • Recovery @ slow, easy pace: 1 minute
  • Interval #3 @ hard, threshold pace: 2 minutes
  • Recovery @ slow, easy pace: 1 minute
  • Interval #4 @ hard, threshold pace: 2 minutes
  • Recovery @ slow, easy pace: 1 minute
  • Interval #5 @ hard, threshold pace: 2 minutes
  • Cool down @ slow, easy pace: 3 minutes

Committing to running 2 miles a day is a great way to improve and revitalize your health. The simple act of committing to this goal will help encourage other healthy changes throughout the day, not to mention the benefits of 20 extra minutes of physical activity.

A 20 minute run is easy to complete with even the busiest of schedules. If you’re wanting to improve your running, give it a try!

More tips for running 20 minutes a day: