How to Start a Basic Walking Program

Now that spring is here, it is time to get outside and get moving. A simple walking program, as the example below, may be the best aerobic activity to start with, especially if you haven’t been particularly active.

It’s always best to start with slow short walks and gradually increase your frequency, time and intensity. Usually we go out and try to do way too much, too fast. This is the best way to fail your well-intentioned program. First, take things slowly. You should try to go out the first few times and feel like you have completed some walking, but make sure you are not out of breath, exhausted or really sore. Take your time and accomplish finishing the walk feeling good, not above!

Once you can walk a distance without much strain, you can vary the intensity by walking hills, increasing your pace or swinging your arms more. Your goal is to be active about an hour a day.
Adapt this program to suit your needs. lf it is too easy, pick it up a bit. lf it’s too hard, back off. Variety may help – pick two days out of the week for longer walks and have the rest of the walks be shorter. lf you can’t start out walking 15 minutes, start with what you can do and work up from there.

Week Minutes/Day Comments
1 15 3-4 days this week
2 20 3-5 days this week
3 25 6 days a week
4 30
5 35
6 40 Increase Intensity
7 45
8 50
9 55
10 60 Increase Intensity

As always, check with your physical therapist or your doctor before starting new programs. Some times integrating into your program some passive or active stretching can help to loosen you up prior to your walk. By doing this, it warms your body up, helps to get your breathing going a bit and can also help to prevent injuries by being looser before you walk.

Good luck and never hesitate to reach out to your physical therapist to learn other ways to get your body started in a walking program!

Adapted from the book “The Mayo Clinic Diet” by the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic