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20 minute outdoor interval workout

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  January 9, 2013 07:00 AM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Remember; please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Have you ever had the best of intentions to workout at your gym around this time of year, only to leave frustrated and discouraged because the facility was packed and not a free treadmill or bike was to be seen? Here’s a little tip; always have a backup plan! This 20 minute workout will give you just that. It’s one that I often do with my dog, and we both really enjoy it. Whether you just want some fresh air, the gym is packed, or maybe you want to make your daily walk with your canine a little bit more invigorating, give this workout a try.

For 5 minutes, either walk or jog at an intensity that allows you to easily hold on a conversation. This should be a pace you could sustain for an hour or so if you needed to.

Work for 10 minutes, alternating between one minute at your easy warm-up intensity, and one minute at a faster and very challenging effort that leaves you breathing heavily. For some people, the hard efforts could still mean you’re walking (only faster than your warm-up), while others may need to jog or sprint in order to reach a difficult intensity. Use the easy minutes to catch and slow your breath. This workout will add up to 5 easy efforts and 5 hard efforts.

Take another 5 minutes to completely catch your breath and bring the intensity down.

Wear a watch or carry a stopwatch so that you can easily keep track of your time. Here are 10 great interval timing apps that you can download to your smartphone.

Dress in warm layers if you’re going to be outside in the cold, and make sure your shoes have sufficient tread when roads are slick.

To make this workout harder, push the intensity a little higher during the challenging efforts, or add on more intervals.

Using this same format (alternating between easy and hard efforts), try walking or running up and down a set of stairs for the challenging efforts, and then stopping to catch your breath for the easy efforts.

Good luck, and let me know how this goes if you give it a try!

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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