As always, before you begin a new exercise program, check with your doctor first. As long as you’re cleared for exercise, walking for better health and/or weight loss is a great place to start. These tips will help you create a walking fitness plan that fits within your abilities and helps you achieve your health goal.
1 Begin slowly. Even though walking is as natural as breathing, you still need to give your body time to adapt to the increased demands you’re putting on it. So don’t begin your walking program with a 10-mile hike. If you’ve been inactive for several years, begin with as little as 15 minutes walking per day, five or six days per week.
2 Note your starting point. Can you sustain 15 minutes of continuous walking without becoming overly tired or sore the next day? If not, dial it back to 10 minutes per day. If 15 minutes is comfortable, keep up that level for a week before you try to increase your time.
3 Find the right pace. There is no right speed to walk–there is only a right speed for you. The pace that’s right for you is the pace you can sustain for 15 minutes at a time, gradually building up to 30 minutes. You should be breathing deeply, but not out of breath or gasping for air. You should be able to talk, but not sing.
4 Keep Track of your course. When you’re just getting started, the time you spend walking is more important than the distance you cover, but it can be comforting to know where you’re going and fun to track where you’ve been. Whether you’re at home, at your in-laws, or on a trip, you can easily keep track pf your course.
5 Challenge yourself, but be smart! If your goal is weight loss, you want to build up to walking at least 30 minutes and preferably 60 minutes per day, at least five or six days per week. But don’t expect to reach your goal in a week or two. Plan to increase the time you spend walking by about 10% per week, and you’ll continue to progress without risking overuse injury and fatigue. (That means it will take you about 3 months to build up from 15 minutes per day to 30 minutes per day.)
6 Track your progress. It doesn’t matter whether you’re chasing fitness goals, financial goals or personal goals; tracking your progress makes you more likely to hit your target. Keeping a log of your workouts gives you concrete proof that you’re doing what you set out to do, and that you’re making steady progress toward your goal. You may click here to print out the simple ‘Script Trail Walking log to get started!
7 Think tortoise, not hare. You remember the story of the tortoise and the hare; the slow and steady tortoise beats the speedy hare who gets distracted and loses sight of his goal. Walking is a very moderate exercise program, and you’re not going to lose 10 pounds a week. But if you combine regular, moderate walking with a healthy diet, you can develop the lifestyle habits that will help you lose weight over time and keep it off for good.
If you’re a beginning exerciser or a busy Baby Boomer or Senior, walking is the easiest exercise to get you on your way to losing weight. It’s easy to integrate into your daily routine, and for most people it’s a really painless way to increase your activity level.
Try using this simple progression chart below as a guideline when you get started!