Follow a Walking Plan

Do this beginner's 4-week walking program to help improve health and build strength.

Start slow -- up to 10 minutes a day 3-4 times a week -- and build up. Check with your doctor first. Track your progress -- how long and how far you walk.

Start Walking: Day 1

Welcome -- today is the first day of your new walking program. You should start slowly.

  • Walk at an easy pace for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stretch your calves and hamstrings for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at an easy pace for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Go easy on yourself if you're a new walker. You'll lose motivation -- or hurt yourself -- if you start out too fast or push too hard. Remember to rest if you feel tired. Relax tomorrow and just take an easy walk, if you feel like it.

Start Walking: Day 3

Keep moving! Repeat the same walking plan from your first day.

  • Walk at an easy pace for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stretch your calves and hamstrings for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at an easy pace for another 4 to 5 minutes.

It may be tempting to do a lot more, but try to resist. Going slowly will reduce the risk of hurting yourself. Don't skip the stretching! You can take another leisurely walk tomorrow if you feel like it.

Start Walking: Day 5

Today, try a 10-minute walk without stopping to stretch in the middle. Stick to a leisurely pace. Stop and rest if you get tired. To make things more interesting, walk downtown or in a mall so you can window shop.

Take the day off from walking tomorrow, if you like.

Start Walking: Day 7

Today, take a 10 to 12 minute walk. Stick to a leisurely pace.

While you walk, catch up on your personal calls -- chat with a friend or loved one. Multitasking can make the walk go by faster and distract you from any boredom -- and make those extra minutes a lot less noticeable.

Walk tomorrow again if you like, but try to get in one day each week to rest.

Continued

Keep Walking: Day 9

Congratulations! You're now on week 2 of your walking program. Today you'll try to increase your activity a little.

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes.

One fun way to keep track of your walking is to get a step counter. They're an inexpensive way of checking your progress at the end of a day. About 2,000 steps equal a mile.

Keep Walking: Day 11

Don't stop now. Today, aim to:

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes.

Try to avoid walking near busy roads. But if you must, remember these tips: If you walk in the evening, always wear clothing with reflective stripes so drivers can see you. And no matter what time you walk, remember to walk on the opposite side you'd drive -- facing traffic.

Keep Walking: Day 13

Today, take a 15-minute walk. Stick to a leisurely pace. Rest if you need to.

You may enjoy walking while you listen to music -- create a playlist of songs that will put some spring in your step. Just make sure you don't play it so loudly that you can't hear traffic. Enjoy your break from walking tomorrow.

Keep Walking: Day 15

Good job! You're now on week 3 of your walking program -- it's time to step things up a bit.

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 8 to 10 minutes.

If you can, aim to walk in the midmorning or early afternoon -- there will be less traffic on the road.

Keep Walking: Day 17

Keep it up! Today, you should:

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remember that you can always split up your activity. If you want to do half of your walking in the morning before work and half on your lunch break, that's fine.

Continued

Keep Walking: Day 19

Take a 15-minute walk -- and keep it brisk. No window shopping!

If you feel your resolve faltering, plan walks with a neighbor or friend. Having someone else involved will help you stick to your walking program. Pamper yourself for your consistency with a warm bath, foot massage, or new walking socks.

Keep Walking: Day 21

Try a 20-minute walk. Stick to a leisurely pace. To mix things up, try a new route today. Consider driving to an unfamiliar park to walk during lunch or after work.

Keep Walking: Day 23

Almost there! You're now on week 4 of your walking program. It's time to increase the intensity a bit.

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes.

Assess your progress -- is walking making a difference in any pain levels, mood, or energy?

Keep Walking: Day 25

Keep moving! Today you should

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes.

Is bad weather interfering with your walks? You can always walk at the mall. Many gyms have treadmills and inside tracks, too. You may be able to make up a walking route inside at work -- use the stairwells -- or even up and down a hallway at home. Use your creativity to keep on walking.

Keep Walking: Day 27

Change it up today. Instead of walking, do something else active for 20 or more minutes. Rake some leaves or weed your garden. Play in the yard with your kids.

Keep Walking: Day 29

Congratulations! It's the last day of your walking program.

  • Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 2 minutes.
  • Walk at a brisk pace for 20 minutes.

Of course, this isn't really the end. Try to stay at this pace in the coming weeks -- add about 2 to 5 minutes of brisk walking each week.

Your goal is to build up to at least 150 minutes a week -- that's 30 minutes 5 times a week.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 07, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Start Walking Now: "Beginner Weight Loss Workout."

Start Walking Now: "Intermediate Weight Loss Workout."

Start Walking Now: "MyStart Walking Tracker."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Sample Walking Program."

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