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A Walking Plan for Weight Loss

Here's a guide to help you walk towards your weight loss goals.

Walking is an excellent way to improve your overall health and well-being. Remember, weight loss does not happen overnight; it’s a journey that takes time. The scale cannot be the only determining factor of your success. Take note of how you feel, how your clothes fit, your breath and endurance, and use those as indicators to help keep you moving forward. Regular walking can also be a great tool for managing our stress levels which is a key component to our overall wellness.

When starting out, the goal is to begin walking at an easy to moderate pace and distance, and slowly start to increase the number of days of walking each week. Consistency is the key to success.

Beginners should start with 10- to 15-minute walks three times a week at a brisk pace (2.5-4 mph). Your pace should be determined by your maximum heart rate (see below). You can also split up your walk into two parts—one in the morning and one at night—if that works better for you. Then, as you feel ready, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.

What to Know Before You Start


Know your maximum heart rate for your age. 


To find out your maximum heart rate, take 220 minus your age.


Example: 220 – 50 (age) = 170 beats per minute (bpm) = maximum heart rate


Heart Rate Zone: 170 x 50-70% = 85-119 bpm


It's not necessarily about how fast you walk; it's about getting your heart rate up. Swinging your arms, increasing your steps per minute, and consistent breathing helps increase the heart rate.


The talk test can help identify the level of exercise intensity. A person doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking can talk, but not sing during the activity. A person doing vigorous-intensity activity, such as running cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.


Sample Walking Plan for Beginners


Week 1

Monday: 10-minute brisk walk

Wednesday: 11-minute brisk walk

Saturday: 12-minute brisk walk


Week 2

Monday: 15-minute brisk walk

Wednesday: 12-minute brisk walk

Friday: 17-minute brisk walk

Saturday: 14-minute brisk walk


Week 3

Monday: 18-minute brisk walk

Wednesday: 15-minute brisk walk

Friday: 18-minute brisk walk

Saturday: 15-minute brisk walk

Sunday: 15-minute brisk walk


Week 4

Monday: 20-minute brisk walk

Tuesday: 15-minute brisk walk

Wednesday: 20-minute brisk walk

Thursday: 15-minute brisk walk

Friday: 20-minute brisk walk

Saturday: 15-minute brisk walk

Sunday: Rest


Weeks 5-8

Walk for 25 minutes each day except for one, which is your rest day.


Weeks 9-12 and beyond

Walk for 30 minutes each day.


The above is an example of a walking plan. You can walk for longer intervals or even incorporate strength training. Using your body as resistance, finding stairs, and walking at an incline will help you work a whole new set of muscles. Walking cannot only be done outdoors but also inside on a treadmill.


Personalize Your Plan


Set a Goal

Make it about more than just the number on the scale. Have a daily step goal. Sign up for a local 5K walk/run. Need to lower your blood pressure? Want to have more energy? Having an end goal will keep you focused.


If you are just beginning, don't be unrealistic and set out to walk for an hour. Increase gradually to remain motivated and successful. For example, if you are comfortable walking for 30 minutes, consider bumping it up to 45 minutes. Be comfortable with one benchmark before increasing to the next.



Water composes approximately 60% of the human body. Therefore, it's important to remain hydrated throughout the day and rehydrate after exercising. If you're going on an extended walk or if it’s hot outside, carry a water bottle or wear a hydration pack.


Gear Up

Having a good pair of walking shoes is essential to providing adequate support and preventing injury. If you are unsure what shoes to buy, visit a local running store for proper a fit, size, and selection.


Don’t forget to dress appropriately too. Choose lightweight and light-colored fabrics for the warmer months and don’t forget to apply sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.


Track it

Wearing a fitness tracker or downloading a fitness app to your phone is a great way to track your progress. This will encourage you to increase your activity.


Another way of tracking your progress is to use the RENEW Habit Tracker or a walking log (download the pdf below). It’s a simple way to log your progress, and the mere act of tracking a behavior can spark the urge to change it. When we get a signal that we are moving forward, we become more motivated to continue down that path. Plus, it’s satisfying to cross an item off your to-do list.


Check the Weather

Weather changes can easily derail your plans. To avoid this, check the weather and plan accordingly. Have a backup plan if it rains, like going on YouTube and searching for a “walking video” or a workout you can do indoors (and that’s free).


Get a Walking Buddy

Grab your dog or enlist a neighbor, friend, or family member. Or, sign up for a walking club on Walking with others can keep you motivated and accountable, and help you meet new people with similar goals.


Make a Playlist or Download an Audiobook

Make yourself a feel-good playlist by choosing songs with an upbeat tempo and motivating lyrics. Think about songs that make you smile and will help you push farther longer. Alternatively, consider downloading an audiobook or podcast to listen to while you walk.


Mix It Up

Walking in your neighborhood can be easy and convenient, but try a different route once in a while to avoid monotony.



Stretch before and after to prevent injury and increase flexibility (see examples below). Find more on the RENEW website or search YouTube for a stretch routine that works for you.




Hamstring stretch: 

Place one foot on a low, secure bench or step. Stand tall. While keeping your chest high, hips square and tailbone lifted, bend forward from your hips.


Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, taking deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.


Calf stretch: 

Stand facing a wall or tree and place both hands on it. Position one foot forward with the knee bent and the other leg back with the leg straight, toes pointing at the wall. With your core tight, lean in toward the wall/tree.


Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, taking deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.


Hip flexor stretch: 

Lunge one leg forward with a knee bent. Keep the back leg straight or slightly bent. Shift your hips forward, while squeezing your butt until you feel a stretch in the top of your back leg near your groin. Keep your torso upright and your front knee behind your toes.


Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, taking deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.


Inner thigh stretch: 

Stand with your feet spread wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your torso upright and core tight, push your weight to one side with a bent knee over the toe. Keep your other leg straight.


Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, taking deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.


Chest stretch: 

Place your fingertips on the back of your head. Push your elbows back while maintaining a tight core. Squeeze your upper back until you feel a stretch in your chest near your underarms.


Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, taking deep breaths.


Quad stretch:

While standing on one foot, grab the opposite foot with both hands and pull it behind you so that it touches your butt. Place one of your hands on a wall or tree for balance, if needed.


Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, taking deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.


Download the complete Walking Plan with a Walking Log template included.

RENEW Walking Plan
Download PDF • 721KB


Adapted from:

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