Getting Started: A 6-Week Beginner Walking Program to Get Healthy

A structured walking program can help you build up your steps over time, whether you’re just starting to walk for fitness or if you’re looking to make better progress towards your daily recommended exercise. This 6-week beginner walking program is simple, yet flexible enough that almost anyone can use it to get more active.

While most people know about the many benefits of walking for fitness, following a plan makes you much more likely to actually reach your fitness goals. Suddenly increasing your step count can lead to overexertion, so it’s important to build up your endurance gradually over time.

This 6-week walking program is suitable for anyone who wants more steps, and will build up your step count and walking time safely and effectively.

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Before You Start Walking

Older couple walking for fitness
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There is little doubt that you know how to walk. However, walking for fitness can mean walking longer distances or at brisk walking speeds that your body isn’t used to. A little preparation is in order before beginning a walking program. First, you’ll want to consider your current health condition and activity level.

Visit Your Doctor

Man at doctor starting a walking routine
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Before beginning any fitness routine, it’s recommended you discuss your plans with your doctor. There are many common health conditions that would require you to amend your starting routine. The Mayo Clinic suggests you consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine if you are over 40, have serious health conditions, or have been inactive recently. Some conditions you may consider discussing with your doctor before beginning a walking program include:

  • Heart problems.
  • Diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Chest pain (especially with exertion).
  • Dizziness or fainting spells.

Dress for Success

When you start a new walking routine, you will want to be comfortable and avoid injuries. Believe it or not, your wardrobe can be the cause of these problems. Clothing for fitness walkers should be loose-fitting, comfortable, and layered for temperature changes.


Women's workout clothes laid out
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You’ll want to wear lightweight, loose, and comfortable clothing when you walk. Avoid heavy fabrics like denim to avoid chaffing. Sweat-wicking fabrics are great for your base layer in both hot and cold weather to move sweat away from your body. In cooler weather, wear light layers that can be shed if necessary.


Thick walking socks and shoes
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The right socks can actually make your walk much more comfortable! The right socks feel great and help in avoiding painful blisters. Cotton socks hold moisture against the skin and can cause blisters. Look for athletic socks that are fitted to avoid slipping.


Hiking boots being tied for walking
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Perhaps the most important part of your walking workout gear are the shoes you wear. Search for athletic shoes designed for walking. The pressure and effects on your feet are different when walking as opposed to running. Take the time to try on a few pairs of shoes and walk around in them. If you feel unsure, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

A Safe Beginner Walking Program

The CDC and other health organizations recommend that adults get around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise weekly. This requirement can be met by walking 25 minutes per day, 6 days a week, or 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. It’s important to start slow and work up to this amount.

Older and younger woman walking near water
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As you begin, you might be unsure whether you should increase or decrease the intensity of your walks. To understand intensity, pay attention to the way your body responds to exercise. Moderate intensity exercise means your breath quickens but you’re not gasping. During moderate-intensity exercise, you’ll begin to sweat within 10 minutes, and you’d be able to talk but not sing the words to a song.

When just starting a walking workout, take things slow and don’t try to walk too much, too fast. Signs of overexertion include shortness of breath and/or pain that interrupts your workout. It’s important to lower your intensity when you notice signs of overexertion. Sometimes you may not feel the effects of your walk until hours later, or even the next day.

The following program is a safe way to begin a walking routine that will help you work up to the recommended daily amount of aerobic exercise.

Week 1:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes easy walking.
  • Stretch – 2 minutes.
  • Brisk walking – 5-7 minutes.
  • Cooldown – 5 minutes easy walking.

Week 2:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes easy walking.
  • Stretch – 2 minutes.
  • Brisk walking – 7-9 minutes.
  • Cooldown – 5 minutes easy walking.

Week 3:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes easy walking.
  • Stretch – 2 minutes.
  • Brisk walking – 9-11 minutes.
  • Cooldown – 5 minutes easy walking.

Week 4:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes easy walking.
  • Stretch – 2 minutes.
  • Brisk walking – 11-13 minutes.
  • Cooldown – 5 minutes easy walking.

Week 5:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes easy walking.
  • Stretch – 2 minutes.
  • Brisk walking – 13-15 minutes.
  • Cooldown – 5 minutes easy walking.

Week 6:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes easy walking.
  • Stretch – 2 minutes.
  • Brisk walking – 15-17 minutes.
  • Cooldown – 5 minutes easy walking.

Congratulations! With a slight increase in walking each week, you will quickly meet your goal for a 30-minute walk. As you get used to the routine, you will find that you naturally increase your intensity, increase your natural brisk walking speed and cover longer distances in the same amount of time. Eventually, can learn other ways to add in strength training and speed up your daily walks. You’ll feel great when you reach your goal!

Office workers running and reaching the finish line
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Walking is a great way for beginners to work their way into fitness. As your ability increases, you will find that walking is a good way to increase strength and lose weight.

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