Fitness

3 Ways to Walk

Whether you want to start walking, or do so longer or farther, these programs will help you reach your goal.

In a contest to name the most convenient, affordable, and effective form of activity, walking wins, hands down. Walking serves many purposes, including improving physical, emotional, and mental health, wellness, and fitness. Whether you’re motivated to start moving or your plan is already in place, we’ve got a walking program for you that can set you up for success. And remember, before you start any exercise program, consult with your physician first.

GOAL: Start a Walking Program

If you’re starting from Ground Zero, this is the program for you. Perhaps you’ve never exercised before — and you’d rather not use the “E” word to describe what you’re about to take on. Instead think of it as something you’ll do to feel better physically and mentally. Designed to get you in a routine of walking, your goals are time-based, realistic, and attainable. No distances to hit, it’s just you and your timer, clicking off the minutes.

This program is for you if:

  • Your lifestyle has been sedentary up to now;
  • You’re recovering from a long-term illness or severe injury;
  • You wish to build an endurance base and eventually be able to walk farther and/or faster.
SUNDAY MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
15 min Stretching Walk 10 min Walk 10 min   Walk 10 min Upper Body Movement Walk 10 min
15 min Stretching Walk 10 min Walk 15 min   Walk 10 min Upper Body Movement Walk 15 min
15 min Stretching Walk 10 min Walk 20 min   Walk 10 min Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min
15 min Stretching Walk 15 min Walk 20 min   Walk 15 min Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min
15 min Stretching Walk 15 min Walk 20 min Walk 10 min Walk 15 min Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min
15 min Stretching Walk 15 min Walk 20 min Walk 15 min Walk 15 min Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min
15 min Stretching Walk 15 min Walk 20 min Walk 20 min Walk 15 min Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min
15 min Stretching Walk 15 min Walk 20 min Walk 20 min Walk 20 min Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min

KEY

Stretching: Stretch hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves. Find stretches here

Upper Body Movement: Simple and designed to keep you active, do each movement for 30 seconds one after the other, then repeat twice. Eventually you want to work up to being able to do each movement for 1 minute.

  • Alternating right and left jabs. Like a boxer, jab the air in front of you.
  • Right and left overhead reach. Lean a little bit to the right and left as you alternately reach arms overhead.
  • Forward giant arm circles. Move slowly and deliberately.
  • Reverse giant arm circles. Squeeze shoulder blades together as your arms circle back.
  • Wall cactus. Stand with your back against a wall, tailbone and head pressed against the wall, elbows level with shoulders and bent 90 degrees.

GOAL: Walk Farther

Recording actual distances can be motivating as well as provide a strong sense of accomplishment. Keep in mind that building mileage should never be combined with an attempt to go faster. They should be mutually exclusive goals, and the focus of this program is expanding the distance you walk while staying healthy and injury-free.

This program is for you if:

  • You’ve completed Start a Walking Program or have at least two months of walking a minimum of three days per week for 30 minutes at a time with no pain or discomfort;
  • You can commit to the time it takes to build mileage;
  • You’re interested in the possibility of taking on a 10K walking challenge.*
SUNDAY MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 10 min Walk 1.5 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 2 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 10 min Walk 1.5 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 2 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 10 min Walk 1.5 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 2.5 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 10 min Walk 2 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 2.5 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 15 min Walk 2 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 3 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 15 min Walk 2.5 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 3.5 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 15 min Walk 2.5 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 4 miles
15 min Stretching Walk 1 mile, easy pace   Walk 15 min Walk 3 miles Upper Body Movement Walk 4 miles

*To progress to a 10K distance, continue this program for another eight weeks, and bump up the Saturday walks a half mile every other week. 

KEY

Stretching: Stretch hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves. Find stretches here

Upper Body Movement: See “Goal: Starting a Walking Program” Key.

GOAL: Walk Faster

Perhaps you walk up to 30 minutes at a time most days of the week, sometimes longer. If you’ve been mobile for at least two months and feel ready to take your walking to the next level, you can jump in here — or follow the Walk Farther program — and build on your base. Keep in mind that at any time during the course of this schedule should you feel shortness of breath, lightheaded, or acute or lingering soreness in any joints, that’s a sign to back off a bit. Our recommendation: Follow to the last week of the program above, then begin this one again at Week One. Pushing yourself to the point of pain or dizziness may result in greater setbacks than if you listen to your body and take care of it along the way.

This program is for you if:

  • You’re ready for a more challenging weekly routine;
  • You’ve completed Start a Walking Program;
  • You wish to continue to increase endurance and move a little faster.
SUNDAY MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
15 min Stretching Walk 20 min, steady pace Walk 15 min: 5 min steady, 5 min intervals, 5 min steady   Walk 15 min, steady pace Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min: 5 min steady, 10 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 20 min, steady pace Walk 15 min: 5 min steady, 5 min intervals, 5 min steady   Walk 15 min, steady pace Upper Body Movement Walk 20 min: Walk 5 min steady, 10 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 20 min, steady pace Walk 20 min: 5 min steady, 10 min intervals, 5 min steady   Walk 15 min, steady pace Upper Body Movement Walk 25 min: Walk 5 min steady, 15 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 25 min, steady pace Walk 20 min: 5 min steady, 10 min intervals, 5 min steady   Walk 20 min Upper Body Movement Walk 25 min: Walk 5 min steady, 15 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 25 min, steady pace Walk 20 min: 5 min steady, 10 min intervals, 5 min steady Walk 15 min, brisk pace Walk 20 min Upper Body Movement Walk 25 min: Walk 5 min steady, 15 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 25 min, steady pace Walk 25 min: 5 min steady, 15 min intervals, 5 min steady Walk 15 min, brisk pace Walk 20 min Upper Body Movement Walk 30 min: Walk 5 min steady, 20 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 25 min, steady pace Walk 25 min: 5 min steady, 15 min intervals, 5 min steady Walk 15 min, brisk pace Walk 25 min Upper Body Movement Walk 30 min: Walk 5 min steady, 20 min intervals, 5 min steady
15 min Stretching Walk 25 min, steady pace Walk 25 min: 5 min steady, 15 min intervals, 5 min steady Walk 15 min, brisk pace Walk 25 min Upper Body Movement Walk 30 min: Walk 5 min steady, 20 min intervals, 5 min steady

KEY:

Stretching: Stretch hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and calves. Find stretches here.

Intervals: Alternate between equal time (1:1 ratio) of a fast pace and a slow/recovery pace. For example, walk as fast as possible for 30 seconds, then slow to a recovery pace for 30 seconds. Feel free to go longer on the intervals and build up to 2 minutes at a time. As you feel stronger, start to increase your fast-pace times while keeping the slow/recovery pace times the same.

Upper Body Movement: See “Goal: Starting a Walking Program” Key. 

Want to take these programs with you? Download the PDF below for the program you want to try.

Start Walking

Walk Farther

Walk Faster