Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Fitness Articles  ›  SparkPeople Workouts

Beginner Walking Workouts

A 12-Week Program that Builds Endurance

-- By Jen Mueller & Nicole Nichols, Fitness Experts
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.
It’s time to start moving! Walking is an excellent form of exercise, especially for beginners or people returning to fitness after a long time off. This introductory walking program will help you build enough endurance to safely and effectively increase the time that you walk over the course of 12 weeks. You can follow this heart-healthy walking program whether you walk on a treadmill, track, or other outdoor venue. Be sure to refer to our Walking Guide for more information and resources for walkers.

Getting Started
Use the FIT (Frequency, Intensity and Time) Principles for a safe and effective workout!
  • Frequency: Try the walking workout listed three times each week, ideally with a day off between workouts to allow your body to recover. If a particular week's workouts feel too tiring for you, repeat that week again before moving ahead to the next week’s workout.
  • Intensity: Walk at a brisk—not leisurely—pace. Don’t worry about your actual speed, but do pay attention to your overall intensity, aiming for 4-6 on a scale of 1-10. You’ll find a full explanation of this Intensity Scale (known as RPE) below the workouts.
  • Time: Try to follow the suggested guidelines to the best of your ability, which means that you'll walk 2-3 minutes more with each passing week.
And remember, always warm up and cool down. Warming up at a slow pace will help prepare your joints, muscles and heart for exercise. Cooling down will prepare your body to return to a resting state, help prevent muscle soreness, and prevent illness and injury.


An Explanation of Using the RPE Method to Measure Intensity
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) may be the most versatile method to measure exercise intensity for all age groups. Using this method is simple, because all you have to do is estimate how hard you feel like you’re exerting yourself during exercise. RPE is a good measure of intensity because it is individualized—it’s based on your current fitness level and overall perception of exercise. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, allowing you to rate how you feel physically and mentally at a given intensity level.


An RPE between 5 and 7 is recommended for most adults. This means that at the height of your workout, you should feel you are working "somewhat hard" to "hard." The guidelines given for this specific workout program are for beginners and therefore reflect a somewhat lower intensity level.
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1   Return to main fitness page »
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Related Content


Stay in Touch With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • All this info is a great to know... I'm trying to figure out how to copy for myself. - 5/26/2014 9:43:51 AM
  • BSL1956
    I have COPD and stared walking 2 miles a day last week its tough but I made it. I already feel better am going to try for 4 miles next week - 1/19/2014 10:38:39 AM
  • ANGELAAMY
    about half a block is all I can walk thanks to bad back and arthritis everywhere. so I use a power chair, walk beside it as far as the body lets me, ( try to go a little farther each time ), then ride and rest a bit then walk some more. in stores I push the chair and walk, can stay on my feet whole shopping trip on a good day. recently got a mini trampoline with a balance bar for safety. can only do a little jogging in place on it but gets the heart rate up and less joint pressure than jogging on a solid surface so i'm doing as much as I can every day- am 220, should only be 130-160. I am gonna lose it !!! - 12/30/2013 3:38:08 PM
  • I used to be able to walk for 45 min. and no trouble at all. Back problems have taken over so I can only walk for about 15 min. before my leg goes numb and I have to stop. When I walk I take this into consideration and don't do more than I can. I also use a recumbent bike that takes pressure off my back.

    If you have health problems, do what you can. If that's just 5 min. a day, ok, it's better than nothing.

    I like the looks of this workout. It's definitely geared for beginners or people who need to ease into a walking program. I also like Leslie Sansone's workouts. - 12/5/2013 10:19:55 AM
  • THEMACK00
    Can't Wait to start! - 11/18/2013 1:39:03 PM
  • LANGLA2
    Hi!I cope w.chronic pain&osteoarthris
    tis.Can you suggest how much I should walk 2 lose little weight&feel better?Thx! - 11/14/2013 3:21:53 PM
  • Great article. I love to walk. Thank you. - 10/24/2013 6:11:25 PM
  • I honestly can't imagine taking 4 weeks to work up to walking 11 minutes. I'm in the obese category and started off at 30 minutes three times a week. Within 2 weeks I was up to 45 minute three times a week. (I'm 70 pound over my ideal weight.)

    Who is this article geared towards? - 10/9/2013 1:11:40 PM
  • CFORCELLA04
    I quit smoking in February and gained 15 lbs! I want to lose 20! Wish me luck! - 9/18/2013 2:13:29 PM
  • CHEROKEEFOX
    I have been looking for a walking plan. Thank you! - 5/3/2013 5:40:52 AM
  • CELTICMAID
    Sorry,New here and asked a question......try again....
    I walk up and down the stairs as I heard that13 steps 13times per day were minimum exercise.
    I walk up and down the kitchen and do `kettles worth!`
    What do the new and limited exercisers do _ would love to know what you do. - 4/6/2013 5:16:40 AM
  • CELTICMAID
    I think this is going to be hard, I Have heart condition, hereditary, high blood pressure and cholesterol, arthritis and asthma. Exercising is good and bad for me - so problematic. I cannot really do spark goals and really need and want to deal with this but not too strenuous and shorter periods = less, and slower progress for me. Any ideas? - 4/6/2013 5:11:29 AM
  • ELLDOCKE
    Thank you. My husband has been trapped in our house due to a needed surgery. We were looking for a way to start up walking again. Our ultimate goal is to be able to do trails again when we camp. This looks like a great way to build up. Not interested in videos that keep him in the house. WE BOTH need outside time for our health! Also, invested in good rain gear. As the ad says, we in the Northwest don't let 31 days of straight rain stop us from living outdoors!
    - 12/30/2012 10:27:16 AM
  • Pls does anyone know where I can download Leslie Sanone walk awsy the pound workout?or better still I don't mind if anyone can send ♍εQ
    8;̣̣
    ;̣ a copy of the miles workout,my email address is kemimopelola@yaho
    o.com,thk u so much - 12/12/2012 9:41:30 AM
  • JAYJAYJOURNEY
    I think I will take the advice from others and do the Leslie Sansone walking dvds also. I own several of them and that way I can walk in all weather, in the safety of my house since it is so dark where I live (and we have wild critters, like skunks) and I usually walk early am or early evening. I can always walk the dogs once a day for an added bonus :) - 11/12/2012 11:55:57 AM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Running or jogging: 7.5 mph (8 minutes per mile)  |  Running or jogging: 8.6 mph (7 minutes per mile)  |  Skateboarding