Beginning a Fitness Walking Programme 

You know you want to begin a fitness programme, but don't know where to start? It's easy! Walking is one of the easiest and most profitable forms of exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothing, and the will and desire to succeed.

Start by making small but important changes to your daily routine such as:

  • Walk to work
  • Walk to the shops
  • Periodically swap the school car run for a walk, or park further away from the school 
  • If you have to use a car, park it at the far end of the car park at work and the shops
  • Walk between meetings
  • Get off one tube or bus stop earlier than normal 
  • Walk up escalators
  • Walk upstairs, don’t take lifts
  • Walk the dog 

How to start

First of all, start out slow and easy. For most people this means head out the door, walk for 10 minutes, and walk back. That's it? Yes, that's it. Do this every day for a week. If this was easy for you, add five minutes to your walks next week (total walking time 25 minutes). Keep adding 5 minutes until you are walking as long as desired. 

Watch your posture. Walk tall. Think of elongating your body. Hold your head up and eyes forward. Your shoulders should be down, back and relaxed. Tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks and fall into a natural stride. 

Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm-up, cool down and stretches into your routine. Start your walk at a slow pace, stop and do a few warm-up/flexibility drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with a slower cool-down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel great and assist in injury prevention. 

The toughest thing about starting a fitness programme is developing a habit. Walking daily will help (a minimum of 5 days a week is a good goal). You should walk fast enough to reach your target heart rate, but you should not be gasping for air. After you have formed the habit you will want to evaluate your programme and your goals.

Here are some general guidelines

If you are walking for general health benefits try to walk 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, at a "talking" pace. (Talking pace means you have elevated breathing, but you can still carry a conversation.) To improve cardiovascular fitness you should walk 3 to 4 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. At this pace, you are breathing hard but not gasping for air. If you are walking for weight loss you should walk a minimum of five days a week, 45 to 60 minutes at a brisk pace. 


10,000 Steps Challenges

Walking 10,000 a day is a philosophy based on an idea developed in Japan 50 years ago that will keep you fit and healthy without the need for additional exercise. In fact, the nickname for a pedometer in Japanese is “manpo-kei”, which means 10,000 steps. 

Experts suggest walking 6,000 steps a day to improve health and 10,000 steps a day to lose weight. Every 2,000-2,500 steps are about a mile. Walking a mile burns about 80 calories for a 150-pound person, so depending on your weight, walking 10,000 steps burns between 250 and 600 calories. Most weight loss programmes recommend burning 200-300 calories per day in moderate to vigorous exercise. If you walk 10,000 steps per day, with 3000 of those steps at a brisk walking to jogging pace, you should be burning enough calories. 

10,000 Steps Challenges Programmes

Walking Exercise Programmes

  • Ramblers – Wales pedometer Challenge 
  • The Walking site - Zero to Sixty in Twelve Weeks. An easy to follow schedule to get you walking 60 minutes in 12 weeks. 

Further Reading


In the Equipment required for Walking section. 

Physical activity guidelines 

NHS Choices has guidelines to find out if you're doing enough physical activity for your age: