Starting a Walking Program: A 12 week plan

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When starting a walking program, or any exercise routine, it’s good to have a measurable plan with small steps that can lead to long-term success. Here’s a FREE walking workout program for beginners that can take you from Day 1 through Week 12 and into a new healthy habit! The goal of this walking program is to move you toward walking for 30 – 60 minutes 5-7 days a week.1 Check with your health care provider before you start any exercise program.

12 week sample walking plan

Download Walking Plan (pdf)

Tips for Success

Start Slowly

If you haven’t been physically active for awhile, start slowly. Gradually build up how long and how fast you walk – moving gradually from the warm up to a more brisk walking pace day by day. (Eventually, you can learn to keep your brisk walk within your target heart rate zone – the optimal pace at which you want to perform any aerobic exercise for maximum benefit.)

Listen to Your Body

It’s always important to listen to your body when you exercise. Although you may feel some soreness or a bit of stiffness, especially when you begin, you should not feel pain.

During a brisk walk you should be able to talk, but not sing. If you can’t complete a sentence, you’re going too fast. Slow down slightly and keep going.

If you feel dizzy, like fainting, unable to catch your breath, or pain/pressure in your chest during or after exercise. Stop the activity and contact your health care provider immediately.

Stay Motivated

To stay motivated:

Find your why: Decide why you’re walking. Write it down and post it as a reminder where you will see it often.

Set a goal: Challenging yourself to meet a goal, such as walking a 5k or 10k, or being able to walk a specific distance from your front door and back within a specified time.

Buddy-up: Ask a friend or family member to join you. Keep each other accountable to walking regularly, and keeping a good pace.

Join a program or event:  Walk Across Texas, Walk Through Texas History, and the 10 – 10,000 Change Challenge are all free programs you can join at


  1. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.
  2. National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute (2006). Your guide to physical activity and your heart. NIH Publication NO. 06-5714. Accessed July 8, 2022.
  3. University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Pubic Health,. Sample walking program. Accessed July 8, 2022.