Just take a 20-minute walk

That’s probably the most irritating thing you can ever say to me. I’m serious! I absolutely hate it to the core. Believe me, almost every friend, family member and acquaintance have passed on this worthless piece of advice. Partly because they were concerned that I was spending an inordinate amount of time in the gym (2-3 hours, 4-5 times a week) but mostly because they couldn’t digest the fact that I was able to commit myself to my regimen despite my (often erratic) schedule.

A few reasons why I get irritated when I hear the 20-minute fix:

  1. A mere 20 minute walk just isn’t enough for someone who is already quite active physically. It works wonders for sedentary folks who just don’t move. But again, it’s a great start. Hoping that “20 minutes for the rest of the life” would do wonders is utterly stupid and painful in the long run.
  2. My warm-up lasts for a full 30 minutes before I get started with my training. I can’t possibly squeeze in my workout in 20 minutes. Also, the folks who’re able to do a 20-minute workout are possibly working at an intensity that’s at least 20 times more than a walk in the park. And most importantly, these are highly advanced programs and not for everyone. Besides, one of the challenges with the HIIT workouts is that they neither sustainable nor are they an all-around solution to your health goals.
  3. A physical exercise program shouldn’t ever be viewed from a productivity point of view. (You’re not trying the pomodoro technique here!) Putting in time at the gym (or at home with your bodyweight and kettlebells) is an investment that pays back big time. An hour’s worth of training puts in at least an hour or two back in the day. Every time. For me, I get at least 2-3 hours worth of more high-quality and high-energy work done.
  4. The most productive people on the planet don’t take 20-minute walks but are on intensive programs that elevates their heart rate, hormonal activity, overall mood and energy. It’s as if a well-planned training program infuses more into their lives than take it away.
  5. Any moron can walk for 20 minutes but only a few go the extra mile and actually do the work. There are no prizes for the ordinary but a lot more for the extra ordinary who work hard. I honestly believe this “fix” is more for the crowd that’s average or below but definitely not for high-performers who thrive under pressure.

I think you can tell how strong I feel about this. And if you’re the kind who offers the “20-minute fix” to people, I would recommend that you keep the advice specifically for someone who’s sedentary and wants to get moving. That’s because your fix isn’t a permanent solution to a problem that will never stop growing.

Also, I believe, it’s time for you to think beyond 20-minutes and start working hard for real. Do you have it in you to raise your bar?

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