Cardio Walking Workout for Beginners

Treadmill. Scott Barbour / Stringer / Getty Images

If you're just getting started with exercise, this simple treadmill workout will help you ease your way into cardio exercise.  Walking on the treadmill offers a low impact workout, allowing you to adjust your speed or incline to add intensity throughout the workout.

Equipment Needed for the Cardio Walking Workout

This workout can be done with a treadmill, of course. But if the treadmill isn't your thing, you can try an elliptical trainer or a cross trainer.

If you don't have access to any machine, you can give it a try out in the real world, speeding up, slowing down and finding hills, ramps or stairs to add incline.

Take a few minutes to get to know the treadmill or elliptical before you start your workout. How do you adjust the incline and speed? You don't want to fly off the machine, embarrassing yourself or giving yourself an injury that will put you back on the couch.

How To Do the Beginners Cardio Walking Workout

  • Follow each segment of the workout, working to find a pace/resistance that allows you to work at the suggested Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Level 4 is one where you know you are exercising, but you can still chat with everybody around you. By level 5 and 6 you are sweating more and breathing harder.
  • Walk for as long as you can, stopping early if you feel uncomfortable or that you're working to hard.
  • Perform this workout about 3 times a week with a day of rest in between. 
  • Progress by adding a few minutes each time you workout until you're up to 30 minutes
  • Stretch your lower body after your workout
5 minutes Walk at a comfortable pace to warm up4
3 MinutesIncrease your speed or incline (or both) a few increments until you're working harder than your warm up pace.  You should feel you're working, but you should be able to carry on a conversation.  This is your baseline pace5
2 MinutesIncrease your speed and/or incline once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline5-6
3 MinutesDecrease speed/incline back to baseline5
2 MinutesIncrease your speed and/or incline once again until you're working slightly harder than baseline5-6
5 MinutesDecrease speed/incline back to a comfortable level to cool down4
 Total Workout Time:  20 Minutes 

Do You Really Know How to Walk?

You will get more out of your treadmill walking workout if you use great walking posture and a powerful stride. After you've given it a try, check out these pointers on fitness walking technique.

Precautions for the Walking Workout

See your doctor before trying this workout if you any illnesses, injuries or you're on medication that may affect your heart rate or workouts. It's likely that your doctor will be happy you are finally getting more active, he may know of precautions you will need to take.

You may need to use the handrails of the treadmill in the beginning, but as you progress you should wean yourself away from holding onto them. This will improve your walking posture and stride so you can breathe better, improve your balance and coordination, and burn more calories.

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