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Shape Up: Walking Plans for Every Ability

Mileage Machine Workout

Goal: Set a personal best.

Time how long it takes you to walk 5 miles (plot a route for free at Then aim to improve that number by 5 to 10 percent using this eight-week plan. Following this program can also prepare you to walk your first 10K (6.2-mile) event.


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Walking Workout



Brisk: 25-30 min.



Brisk: 30-35 min.



Brisk: 30-35 min.



Easy: 10 min.  Brisk: 10 min.
Power Intervals: Power: 1 min. Easy: 1 min. Repeat 7-10 times
Easy: 5 min. 
Total: 39-45 min.



Brisk: 40-50 min.



Easy: 10 min. Brisk: 5 min. Power: 5 min. 
Brisk: 15 min. Total: 35 min.



Easy: 10 min.  Brisk: 10 min. 
Power Intervals: Power: 1 min. Easy: 1 min. Repeat 8-12 times 
Easy: 5 min. Total: 41-49 min.



Easy: 50-60 min.

"I've been walking for exercise for 30 years."

This plan is perfect for Beverly Carter, 48, a social worker and mom of six from Gilbert, Arizona, who loves to work out. "I walk four or five times a week, and I also bike, play racquetball, and do yoga," she says. Last year she completed a 6-mile race in about an hour and 40 minutes. This year she hopes to chop 5 to 10 minutes off her time.

Gear to Get You There: ePulse2

Tracking your heart rate will discourage you from slacking off during the Brisk and Power Intervals portions. The ePulse2 fastens around your forearm, and the display can be programmed to flash when your pulse dips too low.

How to Maintain Your Motivation

Three surefire ways to maintain your motivation as you strive toward your new goal:

Write it down. Keep a journal in which you describe each walk—the time, distance, if you had a walking buddy, and where you went. As you fill the pages, you'll be inspired to keep charging ahead toward your target.

Create a support system. Ask a friend with similar exercise habits to join you as you follow your plan. The encouragement you give each other will boost your chances of success. Plus, skipping a workout will be much less tempting if you know someone's counting on you.

Have a backup plan. Don't let a busy schedule or poor weather put a damper on your exercising. For example, if it's raining, walk at the mall. Can't find someone to watch your kids? They can tag along on their bikes.

Originally published in the May 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.


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