How to Start a Walking Program
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get in the physical activity you need. It is low-risk, low-cost and can be done by almost any person at any fitness level.
There are many benefits to walking regularly. Walking can help you:
- Reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improve bone health
- Increase energy
- Lose or maintain weight
If you’re new to exercise, here are a few tips to start walking:
- Get your doctor’s OK. This is especially important if you have a medical condition.
- Dress appropriately. Make sure you have supportive shoes and comfortable clothes.
- Start slowly. Begin by walking a short distance at a comfortable pace. Even if the only thing you can do is to walk to the mailbox and back, that’s a good place to start.
- Keep moving. Gradually increase your time, speed and/or distance by 10-20 percent each week.
- Warm up and stretch. Begin at an easy pace for the first few minutes before increasing the intensity of your walk. Stretch at the end of your walk.
- Focus on your posture. Stand tall with your stomach pulled in, shoulders relaxed and head lifted. Swing your arms naturally. Don’t overstride or look down at the ground.
- Take the talk test. If you can talk but can’t sing more than a few words without getting out of breath, you’re exercising at a moderate pace. If you can’t catch your breath or get out of breath after saying only a few words, you’re exercising at a high intensity.
- Find time. Can’t find a large enough block of time to walk or can’t walk for too long at any one time? That’s okay. Break up your activity into 10-minute chunks during the day. These really add up!
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Date Last Reviewed: February 13, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS