Starting a Walking Program

Families, Food and Fitness November 18, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Did you know that you can gain up to 2 hours of life for every hour you spend exercising? Research has shown that walking is a great way to get in your daily exercise needs, and walking has the lowest drop-out rate of any exercise! Spending just 30 minutes a day pounding the pavement can help you reduce your risk of developing:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Breast and colon cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes

Walking can improve your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels. It also helps you maintain weight and enhances your mental well-being. So what are you waiting for? Use these tips to start a walking program, and enjoy the multitude of benefits this simple exercise can offer.

Man walking

  • Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with you.
  • Wear shoes and good socks that cushion your feet and absorb shock.
  • Wear clothes that keep you dry and comfortable. Synthetic fabrics absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
  • Wear a knit cap in the winter to keep your head warm. In the summer, opt for a baseball cap or visor to shield the sun.
  • Do light stretching exercises before and after you walk. Do not bounce while you stretch.
  • Your walk should have a beginning (walk slowly for 5 minutes), a middle (increase your speed for the next 5 minutes), and an end or cool down (walk slowly for 5 minutes).
  • Try to walk at least three times per week. Each day, increase your walk time by 2 to 3 minutes. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
  • To avoid stiff or sore muscles, start gradually. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time.
  • The more you walk, the better you will feel. The more you walk, the more calories you burn!


American Heart Association. Start! Walking Program. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from

How do I start a walking program? Mississippi in Motion Information Sheet 1774, (POD 11-05) Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Be safe when walking/jogging. Mississippi in Motion Information Sheet 1776, (POD 11-05) Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.