8 Walking Tips for Beginners

How To Start Walking

Walking is a gentle, low-impact cardiovascular exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. It's safe and simple. And regular brisk walking can provide many of the benefits of more-vigorous exercises, such as jogging.

Try this 10-week walking schedule

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefits.

But if you're not that active yet, don't worry. Adding some activity when you're not active can have health benefits. Even 60 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week can provide some health benefits. Take it slow and gradually increase your activity over time.

Not sure how to get started with a physical activity program? This 10-week walking schedule can put you on the path to better fitness and health. Before starting this program, check with your doctor.

*Doesn't include warmup and cool-down time.

WeekWalking schedule (time, days a week)*Weekly total
115 minutes, 2 days30 minutes
215 minutes, 3 days45 minutes
320 minutes, 3 days60 minutes
425 minutes, 3 days75 minutes
5 & 630 minutes, 3 days90 minutes
7 & 830 minutes, 4 days120 minutes
9 & 1030 minutes, 5 days150 minutes

Once you get started, follow these tips to prevent pain and injuries:

  • Start slow and easy. Unless you're a seasoned fitness walker, follow this 10-week schedule to give yourself several weeks to work up to 30 minutes or more five days a week. Gradually work up to this fitness level to reduce the risk of injury. It's best to increase the frequency and duration of exercise sessions before increasing the intensity.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable walking shoes that fit well, along with loose-fitting clothing and layers to adjust to changes in temperature.
  • Warm up. Spend five to 10 minutes walking slowly — or walk in place — to reduce your risk of injury.
  • Maintain good posture. Hold your head high, swing your arms naturally and gently tighten your stomach muscles.
  • Assess your intensity. If you're so out of breath that you can't carry on a conversation, you're probably walking too fast.
  • Track your progress. Track how many steps or miles you walk and how long it takes — a pedometer or activity tracker is a great tool.
  • Make walking fun. Plan several different routes for variety. Listen to your favorite music. Invite friends or family to join you.
  • Cool it. After walking, cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walk slowly. Stretch your calf muscles, upper thighs (quadriceps), hamstrings and back. Stretching after your workout helps maintain flexibility while your muscles are warm.

The most important part of any exercise plan is making sure you stick with it. To stay motivated, be patient and flexible. If you don't meet your daily goal, do the best you can, and get back to your regular walking routine the next day. Remember how good it feels after you've had a refreshing walk. Once you take that first step, you'll be on your way to an important destination — better health.

This article is from Mayo Clinic Health Information Library and is legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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