12 Week Beginners Walking Program

Before you begin, let’s find out how fit you are.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you will know that I love to get out and walk, or hike on wooded trails. Walking is one of the best restorative exercises that almost everyone can do. Best of all, walking does not require any expensive gym memberships or any fancy equipment, including fitness trackers. Walking is something you have done all of your life with the exception of maybe fitness walking, so there is not a whole lot for you to learn in order to get the most benefit out of this beneficial, cheap and easy exercise.

First things first, if you are obviously out of shape and specifically, if you have any health problems, please get clearance from your physician before beginning any exercise program.

If you are physically cleared, you are going to need to know exactly where you stand in regards to being physically fit. This is a must, please do not overlook this step. You are going to need to know your recovery heart rate, or how fast your heart rate returns to it’s normal rate after you engage in vigorous exercise. This is going to let you know how efficient your heart operates. This test is easy to perform and does not require you to go out and buy any kind of expensive fitness tracker. Before you go out and spend a $100 US or more on a fitness tracker, you might want to see if you are even going to stick with a program first, and then buy one at a later date. All you need for this initial test is someone to keep time for you, however, you can do it for yourself too.

Next, dress out in comfortable clothing with a good fitting pair of shoes and find either a stair or something sturdy like a stool which you can step onto and off of for a period of 3 minutes.  Begin by stepping onto the step or stool first with your right foot, then up with your left foot. Step down with your right foot, then with your left, and repeat this with an even pace for 3 minutes. Once you have completed your 3 minutes, rest for 30 seconds before taking your pulse rate.

How to take your pulse: Find your heartbeat by placing your index and middle fingers on either your carotid artery (on your neck in one of the grooves along side our windpipe) or your radial artery (on your wrist near your thumb). Using a watch, count the number of beats in a 15 second period. Then multiply this number by four to determine your heart rate per minute.

Compare your pulse rate with the below figures:

Women

Age 30 – 39  Very Fit  <78  Fit 78-99  Avg. 100-109  Unfit  >109

Age 40-49    Very Fit  <80  Fit 80-100  Avg. 101-112 Unfit >112

Age 50-59    Very Fit  <86  Fit 86-105  Avg. 106-115 Unfit >115

Age 60-69   Very Fit  <90  Fit 90-108   Avg. 109-118 Unfit >118

Men

Age 30-39   Very Fit  <84  Fit 84-105  Avg. 106-122 Unfit >122

Age 40-49   Very Fit  <88  Fit 88-108  Avg. 109-118 Unfit >118

Age 50-59   Very Fit  <92  Fit 92-113  Avg. 114-123 Unfit >123

Age 60-69   Very Fit  <95  Fit 95-117  Avg. 118-127 Unfit >127

This walking program is geared towards helping the unfit and the person of average fitness towards gaining a life of physical fitness. If you have any history, symptoms, or major risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, diabetes, or severe obesity, do not take this test or begin any exercise program without your doctors approval!

How vigorous is your workout?

The best way for you to gauge the intensity of your workout is to check your heart rate.Your target heart rate is the pulse you are aiming for when you work out. The safe but effective range is between 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate – the rate you should never exceed. To calculate your maximum rate, subtract your age from 220. If you are 45 years old, your maximum rate is 175 (220-45=175) beats per minute. Your target range is 88 to 149 beats per minute. (.50 or .85 x 175) . The American Heart Association suggests you aim for the following target heart rates:

Age    Target Heart Rate / Maximum Heart Rate

30      95 to 142 bpm              190 bpm

35      93 to 138 bpm             185 bpm

40      90 to 135 bpm             180 bpm

45      85 to 131 bpm             175 bpm

50      85 to 127 bpm             170 bpm

55      83 to 123 bpm             165 bpm

60     80 to 120 bpm              160 bpm

65     78 to 116 bpm              155 bpm

70     75 to 113 bpm              150 bpm

12 Week Walking Program

Week 1

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up with 5 minutes slow walking
  • Walk 10 minutes at 50 to 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down with 5 minutes slow walking

Week 2

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up, 5 minutes
  • 15 minutes at 50 to 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 3

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up, 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 50 to 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 4

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up, 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 5

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 60 to 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 6

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 60 to 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 7

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 25 minutes at 60 to 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 8

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 25 minutes at 70% maximum hear rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 9

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 30 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 10

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 35 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down 5 minutes

Week 11

  • 3 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 35 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down 5 minutes
  • 2 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 30 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate, including 5 minutes of hills or stairs
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 12

  • 3 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 35 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes
  • 2 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 30 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate, including 10 minutes of hills or stairs
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Watch your form!

You already know how to walk, it’s a no brainer to know that one foot goes in front of the next. But, how is your posture when you are out walking? Many people will slump over when they walk which can end up giving them problems with muscle strains, pains in the neck, lower back and hips. As you walk, hold your chest up and tuck in your gut which is helping to support your back. Every few minutes, evaluate your posture as you are walking and straighten up as needed.

Have fun, find a beautiful place to walk and get yourself fit!

 

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8 thoughts on “12 Week Beginners Walking Program

  1. Great post, David. I’ve been solely walking for almost six weeks now as part of a treatment plan my chiropractor put me on. I’ve been suffering from rotator cuff tendonitis for more than a year and he forbids me to do anything else. It’s an ideal restorative activity. My shoulder is finally starting to heal.

    1. Hi Frieda, thank you for reading and commenting. Walking is a great restorative exercise that almost everyone can do. I try to go out on hikes at least once per week.

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