Are you looking to ease into getting in shape? This 12-week walking schedule from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute can start you on the path to better health. But before starting this walking plan, talk with your doctor if you've been sedentary for a long time or you have serious health issues.

Try to walk at least five times each week. Always start with a five-minute, slower paced walk to warm up and end with a five-minute, slower paced walk to cool down.

Start at a pace that's comfortable for you. Then gradually pick up speed until you're walking briskly — the equivalent of 3.5 miles an hour. You should be breathing hard, but still able to carry on a conversation. Each week, add two minutes to your walking time.

As you become more fit, you'll want to add strength training exercises, such as pushups and lunges, to your routine to meet the physical activity level recommended for healthy adults:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity — or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — a week
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week
WeekWarm-upBrisk walkingCool-down
1 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
2 5 minutes 7 minutes 5 minutes
3 5 minutes 9 minutes 5 minutes
4 5 minutes 11 minutes 5 minutes
5 5 minutes 13 minutes 5 minutes
6 5 minutes 15 minutes 5 minutes
7 5 minutes 18 minutes 5 minutes
8 5 minutes 20 minutes 5 minutes
9 5 minutes 23 minutes 5 minutes
10 5 minutes 26 minutes 5 minutes
11 5 minutes 28 minutes 5 minutes
12 5 minutes 30 minutes 5 minutes

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013

Apr. 20, 2013