Please check with you physician before starting a regular exercise program.
Try walking briskly at a 3 to 3.5-mph pace (walking a mile in 17-20 minutes), beginning with 10 minutes per day for the first three weeks. Slowly increase the time you walk by 5 minutes per week until you are able to walk 30 minutes per day, six days per week.
If you are already in good shape, start at this level. If not, you can continue here after about a month of the "Beginner" program. Aiming for a pace of 3.5 to 4.5 mph (13-17 minutes per mile), walk 3 miles (about 45 minutes), 3-5 times per week. If you find that you can't walk that fast, increase the distance that you walk instead.
If you already do fitness walking and/or are in excellent shape, increase the intensity of your workout by doing the following:
- Walk/hike with a 10-15 lb. backpack
- Add uphill/downhill and stairclimbing to your regular walks
- Walk on the beach; the sand will increase your intensity level
- Use 2-3 lb hand weights and continue your arm swing motion
- Try racewalking (5-9 mph). There are many local organizations and competitions you can join.
Fitness Walking Technique
Proper technique in fitness walking can make your workout more effective and enjoyable while helping to prevent injuries.
Keep your head upright, looking ahead. Your chin should be in a neutral position, not to high or tucked in towards your chest. Your shoulders remain back and relaxed, not hunched over.
- Foot Placement
Keep feet close to an imaginary line in the center of the pavement in front of you (follow lines on a track).
- Finding Stride Length
Stand upright with feet slightly apart. Lean forward at the ankles (like a ski jumper). Transfer your weight forward and as you do, put your right foot out in front of you and catch yourself before you fall forward. This is your stride length. You should maintain the same stride length regardless of the type of walk you do (Strolling - 3 mph; Brisk/Fitness walking - 4 mph; Racewalking - 5 mph
Always keep at least one foot on the ground. The heel strikes the ground first, following with rolling onto the ball of your foot, finishing with a strong push off the toes (trailing foot). Focus on quicker rather than longer strides. Avoid slapping the ground with your feet and concentrate on smoothing out the movement.
- Arm Swing
This makes your walk a total body exercise. You will burn an additional 5-10% calories. Let your arms bend at the elbows and swing them in step with your feet in an arc from your waist to the front of your chest; your hands should reach just below chin level. Your forearms should brush your hips to keep your stride forward.