No question about it, simply starting an exercise program is the hardest part of the entire process of getting fit. So feel good (seriously) that you're taking this first step--literally.
In order to succeed, most of us have to choose something that’s simple to do; cheap or free; doesn't take up a lot of time; and doesn’t force you to buy or use a lot of fancy equipment. That's why walking is still the best "gateway" to weight loss, fitness, and getting healthier.
Its benefits include: getting your heart rate up a bit (the faster you walk, the more beats per minute for your heart); it builds muscle tone; it burns calories; and you already know how to do it. Even better, there’s no need to go out and join a highfalutin' gym or turn your living room into a fitness studio.
Here's how to get started:
- Pay attention to the only piece of equipment you'll need: shoes. Having the right footwear can help you avoid hurting yourself or just having sore feet or other pain that may sideline you. Visit your local run/walk specialty store to get properly fitted in shoes with the right amount of cushioning and support for your particular foot type. Keep in mind that many stores fit walkers in running shoes because they're often lighter and more comfortable—plus it gives you the option to run if that’s your eventual goal (we can help you out with that). There's no bigger key to success in a walking program than happy feet, so treat them well.
- Once you hit the road with your new kicks, remember to drink plenty of water. As you walk longer and further, you may want to bring water with you, but in the beginning, simply hydrating at home (drinking water) before and after you walk is enough.
- Be sure to check in with your doctor and start slowly. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; and neither is fitness. A gradual progression will help you avoid injuries and stay engaged as you see real results with each added step.
To print the Walking Program training plan, click here.
Ready to Take The Next Step?
Here's how to keep improving if the program above is too easy and/or boring for you.
After you've done the plan above for 30 days/1 month, try increasing your Monday-Friday walks by 5 minutes each week. Add 10 minutes each to the Saturday walk until you hit 60 minutes, which you can stay at until you begin jogging.
To print the Walking Program training plan, click
Mackenzie Lobby is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer with a master's in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. Mackenzie has run 10 marathons and a USATF-certified coach who has worked with runners and walkers of all levels.
The information on this site and related sites and platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter should not be treated as medical advice and should not be used as a substitute for the advice, treatment, evaluation, diagnosis, or care of a qualified healthcare professional. Please see your physician if you have questions or concerns about your health.
Photo by Anetlanda