If you have clearance from your doctor and you are ready to walk for fitness, this starting plan will help you get started. You are just a few short steps away from your walking workout!
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have shoes and socks that you can walk comfortably in. For beginners, any well-fitting pair of athletic shoes that you like and can wear without hurting your feet or causing any other pain is good. As you progress and add length and distance and days of walking, you will probably want better shoes, but for now, work with what you have or can obtain easily.
The second part of the starting to walk for fitness plan is to pick some walking clothes. Again, go with what you are comfortable wearing. I walk outside in shorts and t-shirts or tank tops for most of the year. (In colder weather, I switch to sweat pants and add wind jacket.) I suggest nothing too tight or way too big. You want something loose enough to prevent chafing but not so big that it gets in your way.
Third, add sunscreen if you are walking outside. Finally, grab your cell phone; add sunglasses and you are good to go. If you wish, take along an mp3 player, stopwatch, regular watch, pedometer or other equipment.
If your living area is not safe for walking, find a local walking trail or gym or treadmill and just walk. Note the time you begin walking. Walk for half the time indicated on the plan below and then turn around and come back. Then, keep walking according to the following training schedule:
Walk for 15 minutes for three days consecutively. Rest one day.
Walk 15 minutes two days. Rest one day.
Walk 20 minutes three days. Rest one day.
Walk 20 minutes two days. Rest one day.
Walk 25 minutes two days. Rest one day.
Walk 25 minutes three days. Rest one day.
Walk 25 minutes four days. Rest one day.
Walk 30 minutes four days. Rest two days.
Repeat with walking five or six days a week for 30 minutes. When you start, do not worry about distance or speed. Just keep your feet moving for the scheduled time.
You can stick with this program indefinitely, and you will be doing more fitness walking than most people. You will be getting regular exercise as recommended by almost all health experts. Your heart and lungs, muscles and bones will be stronger and healthier. If depressed, you will soon feel much better. If your eating remains the same, you will find your clothes getting loose.
Once you have been waking for 21 days, your body will be used to it and will want to walk. All you need to do is put on your shoes and go. So, every time you do not “feel like walking”, just put on your shoes and go out. You’ll find the first step is the hardest and the rest of them are fairly easy to make! Then, walk your regular 30 minutes. You will feel so much better about yourself and be glad you stuck it out.
And, when you are ready to increase your program, come back for future articles. In fact, go ahead and sign up for Steps, the walking newsletter now so you’ll stay informed!
For times when you can’t (or choose not to) walk outside, I recommend Leslie Sansone - Walk the Walk 3-DVD Set (Miracle Mile / Two Mile Walk / Weight Loss Walk 4 Miles). It includes a good low-impact program for beginners (Miracle Mile), but you can increase as you improve with the Two Mile or 4 Mile program, which are also included in the set.