Get walking with this 12-week plan

Use this schedule to help motivate you to exercise regularly and build your fitness level.

Are you looking to ease your way into exercising regularly? This 12-week walking schedule from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides a framework for gradually increasing your cardio time. If you've been sedentary for a long time or you have serious health issues, talk with your doctor before starting this walking plan.

Try to walk at least five times each week. Always start with a five-minute, slower-paced walk to warm up and end with a five-minute, slower-paced walk to cool down.

Start at a pace that's comfortable for you. As you become more fit, you’ll be able to gradually pick up speed until you're walking briskly — the equivalent of 3.5 miles an hour. You should be breathing hard, but still able to carry on a conversation. Each week, add two minutes to your walking time.

Week Warm-up Brisk walking Cool-down
1 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
2 5 minutes 7 minutes 5 minutes
3 5 minutes 9 minutes 5 minutes
4 5 minutes 11 minutes 5 minutes
5 5 minutes 13 minutes 5 minutes
6 5 minutes 15 minutes 5 minutes
7 5 minutes 18 minutes 5 minutes
8 5 minutes 20 minutes 5 minutes
9 5 minutes 23 minutes 5 minutes
10 5 minutes 26 minutes 5 minutes
11 5 minutes 28 minutes 5 minutes
12 5 minutes 30 minutes 5 minutes

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013