4-Week Get-Back-in-Shape Workout

Follow this walking plan to break out of your no-exercise slump.

By Christine Mattheis


walking-workoutWinter weather may have left you frozen to your couch, but don’t let the hiatusdiscourage you from resuming your walking program. “It isn’t hard to wake up hibernating muscles,” says Gregory Florez, a personal trainer and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. There are two key things to remember when getting yourself up to speed. “First, you have to ease into it so you don’t end up with sore knees, shins, or feet,” Florez says. Second, stay positive. “You’ll feel winded during a routine that seemed easy last summer,” he says. “But you’ll be back to your old fit self soon.” Florez developed this walking plan, which will revitalize your workout in just a few weeks.


Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 15 min: EASY 15 min: EASY REST REST 10 min: MODERATE.
15 min: EASY (Total: 25 min)
2 20 min: EASY 25 min: MODERATE REST 15 min: EASY. 15 min: MODERATE (Total: 30 min) 30 min: MODERATE REST OTHER ACTIVITY
3 25 min: EASY 30 min: MODERATE with 1-min HARD intervals every 5 min 15 min: EASY 30 min: MODERATE with 2-min HARD intervals every 5 min 35 min: EASY OTHER ACTIVITY REST
4 15 min: EASY. 15 min: MODERATE (Total: 30 min) 35 min: MODERATE with 3-min HARD intervals 40 min: EASY 5 min EASY. 15 min: MODERATE. 5 min: HARD. 5 min: EASY (Total: 30 min) 35 min: MODERATE OTHER ACTIVITY REST
Easy: You can speak in full sentences.
Moderate: Breathing is quicker, and it’s harder to hold a conversation.
Hard: You’re sweating and can talk only in short bursts.
Other Activity: Get your heart rate going for at least 30 minutes by biking, kicking a soccer ball, or engaging in any other exercise.


Mind Games

These scientifically proven mental tricks will help you tackle your exercise goals.

Make it fun. A University of Illinois study found that unmotivated people perform better when a task is made more enjoyable. Add zing to your walks by varying your routes, setting a destination (like the library), or tuning up your walking mix.

Find a friend. Over the course of two years, participants in a University of Pennsylvania study who exercised with a partner were more likely to stick with it and lost more weight than those who worked out alone. Walk with your spouse, a neighbor, or members of a local walking group.

Talk to yourself. Each morning, say out loud, “Will I walk today?” A study published in the journal Psychological Science shows that questioning whether you’ll complete a task makes you more likely to actually do it.

Originally published in the April 1, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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