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Shape Up: Walking Plans for Every Ability

No matter your fitness level, having a target to shoot for will help you stay on track, boost your health, and tone your body. "Your goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (S.M.A.R.T.)," says Julia Valentour, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. "For example, 'I want to get in shape' is vague, but 'I want to be healthier by walking a half hour seven days a week' is S.M.A.R.T." We've got the tools to get you started, whether you're a beginner, a regular walker, or a turbo exerciser.
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New to Exercise Walking Plan

Goal: Walk 30 minutes every day

Our plan eases you into exercise, so in a matter of weeks you'll be getting the recommended amount necessary for good health—and you'll start noticing changes in your body, like a slimmer waist and firmer legs. Focus on two walking speeds: easy (a leisurely and comfortable pace) and brisk (which should make you start to sweat and breathe harder).

Untitled Document

Week

X/Week

Walking Workout

1

3

Easy: 10 min.
(About 1,200-1,500 steps)

2

3

Easy: 7 min. Brisk: 5 min.
Total: 12 min.
(About 1,600-1,700 steps)

3

3

Easy: 12-15 min.
(About 1,500-2,000 steps)

4

3

Easy: 10 min. Brisk: 6 min.
Total: 16 min.
(About 2,100-2,500 steps)

5

4

Easy: 8 min. Brisk: 10 min.
Total: 18 min.
(About 2,500-2,800 steps)

6

5

Easy: 20-25 min.
(About 2,600-3,000 steps)

7

6

Brisk: 15-20 min.
(About 2,300-3,000 steps)

8

7

Easy: 25-30 min.
(About 3,000-4,000 steps)

"I haven't been active since college."

This plan is perfect for Susan Furey-Soper, 39. In the last 15 years, Furey-Soper has earned a graduate degree, moved cross-country (and back), and given birth to three boys. "I used to run every day, but the craziness of life has prevented me from maintaining a regular routine," says the stay-at-home mom living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "Now that all my kids are in school, I've finally regained my sanity, and I want to start working out again."

Gear to Get You There: Omron HJ-112 Pedometer

The average American takes about 6,000 steps per day, but studies show that at least 10,000 are required for good health. You'll have to walk an additional 30 minutes a day to clock those much-needed 4,000 steps. Watching a pedometer tick upward will motivate you to keep moving. If you haven't hit 10,000 a day by week 8, tack on a nightly stroll with your family.

 
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