Walk Your Way to Better Health: Tips for Beginners
For individuals who have decided to start exercising for fitness and health, walking is a great place to start. Can planning a walking exercise schedule help individuals maintain a fitness routine and improve endurance and speed quicker?
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Walking Exercise Planning Schedule
While any amount of walking benefits health, individuals can increase the benefits by walking more per week or by increasing the pace. Brisk walking for 30 minutes per day, totaling 150 minutes per week, is recommended by health experts to decrease risks for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022)
- Individuals with ongoing health conditions should talk to their doctor before starting any new exercise program.
- Beginners are encouraged to focus on using proper walking posture and technique to steadily improve strength and endurance.
- The increased duration or intensity can help if weight loss is a goal.
- Improving diet is also necessary for the best results.
- Individuals can build healthy walking habits by tracking walks.
- Individuals can walk outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill.
- Wear proper athletic shoes and clothing.
- Check walking posture.
- Walk at an easy pace for a couple of minutes before picking up speed.
An example of what a walking exercise schedule can look like, but it’s advised to consult a professional trainer to develop a personalized fitness plan.
- Start with a 15-minute walk at an easy pace.
- Walk five days the first week.
- Building a healthy habit is the goal, so consistency is important.
- Spread out rest days, like making days 3 and 6 rest days.
- Weekly goal – 60 to 75 minutes
- Add five minutes, so the walk time increases gradually.
Or, individuals can extend more on some days, followed by a rest day.
- Weekly goal – 80 to 100 minutes
- Add five more minutes with each session, so the walk increases to 25 minutes.
- Weekly goal – 100 to 125 minutes
- Add another five minutes to increase the walk to 30 minutes.
- Weekly goal – 120 to 150 minutes
Individuals who find any week to be difficult are suggested to repeat that week instead of adding time until they are able to progress naturally. Once able to walk for 30 minutes at a time comfortably, individuals are ready for a variety of different walking exercise workouts to add intensity and endurance. A weekly walking plan can include:
- Longer walks
- Higher-intensity walks
- Speed-building walks
Beginner Walking Speed
An individual’s objective should be brisk walking to achieve a moderate-intensity workout. This is the intensity that is associated with the most health benefits.
- Moderate intensity is usually associated with walking a mile in 20 minutes or less. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022)
- With a target heart rate of 64% to 76% of maximum heart rate. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022)
Brisk walking should feel like:
- Breathing is heavier than normal.
- Able to carry a full conversation while walking.
- Not out of breath. (Siti Ruzita Mahmod et al., 2018)
- If the speed is slower and the heart rate is lower during the initial weeks, this is normal.
- The first goal is to walk for 30 to 60 minutes a day without injury.
- Adding speed and intensity gradually.
- Staying consistent in regularly walking before trying to walk faster and longer.
- Using proper walking posture and arm motion will help in faster walking.
- To reduce the risk of injury, gradually increase the length of the walk or pace, only changing one component at a time.
Individuals may consider joining a walking group or club to have others to walk with and an incentive to maintain regular walking.
Home Exercises for Pain Relief
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Measuring Physical Activity Intensity. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm
Mahmod, S. R., Narayanan, L. T., & Supriyanto, E. (2018). Effects of incremental cardiorespiratory exercise on the speech rate and the estimated exercise intensity using the counting talk test. Journal of physical therapy science, 30(7), 933–937. doi.org/10.1589/jpts.30.933
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