The frequency, intensity and duration of your fitness walks may depend upon several factors such as your current fitness level, work schedule, available time and desired weight loss goals. After receiving a physician’s ‘okay’ for exercise, beginners should start out slowly, perhaps with a 20-minute moderate walk on a relatively flat surface. This is likely enough to get your heart pumping and strengthen your muscles.
How long should I walk?
To lose weight, strive to walk as much as possible without pushing through pain and risking injury. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to help maintain a healthy body weight, most American adults need to engage in about 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorously-intense cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, on most days of the week in addition to consuming a sensible diet. It may take some time (several weeks) to work up to one hour of brisk walking. You may break this up into shorter segments as long as your total walking time is about 60 minutes.
For optimal physical fitness and weight loss results, make sure your exercise program is well-rounded. Include flexibility exercises, such as stretching and resistance training exercises to enhance muscular strength and endurance. This may push your total workout length closer to 90 minutes. You do not have to perform resistance training exercises daily. Strive to work all of the large muscles of your body (total body) two to three times weekly. In terms of the cardiovascular component, concentrate more on the speed and intensity of your walking than total distance. As you become more fit, it takes a more difficult intensity level and a longer period of time, to reach your target heart rate zone.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005: Chapter 4 – Physical Activity.
- Position of the American Dietetic Association: Weight Management. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Feb 2009;109(2): 330-346.
- National Institutes of Health: Medline Plus-Exercise and Weight Loss.