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Getting Started - Setting Goals

HOW DO I BEGIN MY WALKING PROGRAM AND WHAT IS MY GOAL?

To establish a starting point you can perform this simple test to determine your starting level of fitness.  You can also perform this test every so often during your program to assess your improvement.
    To begin, you need a precisely measured 1 mile route that is flat.  You can utilize a nearby track, which is usually 1/4 mile around or you can mark out a course by driving the distance in your car.  If you decide to use a nearby track, try to do this test when it is not too crowded and you can use the inside lane.  The following will provide you with instructions on performing the test.


Determine your walking time and compare it with the chart below to rate your level of fitness.

Fitness level Men Women
Below Average Couldn't finish Couldn't finish
Below Average 15 min 38 sec of longer 16 min 40 sec or longer
Average Between 12 min 42 sec
and 15 min 37 sec
Between 13 min 42 sec
and 16 min 39 sec
Above Average Less than 12 min 42 sec Less than 13 min 42 sec

   A realistic goal to set is to strive to achieve at least two miles in 30 minutes (15 minutes per mile/4mph pace).   Walking two miles in 30 minutes results in a workout (and caloric expenditure) which is equivalent to aerobics or jogging for approximately 20 minutes.

What is a "brisk pace"?
    If you can walk 120 steps in 1 minute, this is considered a brisk pace.  When you walk at that speed you are covering approximately a mile in 15 minutes, which is the equivalent of 4 mph.  Keep in mind that your speed depends on many factors including your fitness level, weather conditions and terrain.  You must select a pace which is comfortable for you and which feels natural.
     Make sure you set a realistic goal.  If you are a beginner (scored below average) do not attempt to do the two miles in 30 minutes at the onset of your program.  You may want to start with 1-2 10 minute brisk walking sessions for a while until you can perform the test and move into the average fitness level.
    If you are in the average category you may want to do 2-15 minute sessions and build up gradually to 30 minutes.  It is essential to pace yourself.  Listen to your body and assess how your muscles and joints respond after 1 week before reconsidering a change in your program.  It is very common for you to feel fine, without muscle soreness, at the time you are doing your workout or even 24 hours later.   You must be patient and assess how you feel.
 

 The following is an example of a  walking log. These are easy to make. It will help you keep track of your progress and allow you to reassess your goals every so often.  Good Luck!!

WALKERS LOG

DATE
COURSE/DISTANCE
CONDITIONS
COMMENTS

Add more lines as needed.