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How Much Should You Walk? Managing Your Resolution to Exercise More

One popular new year’s resolution that many people make is to exercise more. When planning a strategy to accomplish this goal, keep in mind that walking is the most popular form of physical activity among adults in the USA and the most frequently reported activity among those who meet the government’s physical activity guidelines, recent research shows.

To help you get geared up to walk more, USA TODAY worked with fitness expert Mark Fenton to adapt a quiz from his book, The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness.

TAKE THE QUIZ

To begin a walking program that’s right for you, take the following quiz. Check the answers that best describe you, and add up your score. Then look at the seven levels to find the best place to start. Check with your doctor before starting any program.

1. How active are you on a typical day?

A. Low-key. Unless you count walking to the car, mailbox and fridge or around the store or briefly at work, I’m either sitting, standing still or snoozing.

B. In gear. I’m often walking around at work, dashing up and down the stairs or chasing kids.

C. In high gear. I move as much as I can throughout the day at work and at home.

2. How much conscious exercise do you get in a week?

A. Not much. I rarely get to the point of breathing hard, let alone break a real sweat.

B. I’m trying. At least three days a week, I can feel my heart rate going up when I walk or exercise.

C. I’m trying hard. At least four days a week I work out for 45 minutes to an hour and often work up a sweat.

3. How fit are you right now?

If i warm up and then walk 1 mile at a hard but not painful pace, it takes:

A. More than 19 minutes.

B. 14 to 19 minutes.

C. Less than 14 minutes.

4. The outcome you’d like as a result of being more active?

A. I’d be happy to just be a bit healthier, to wake up less stiff each morning and to have a lower risk for chronic disease.

B. I’d invest enough effort to receive all the benefits in (A), and also to begin losing weight at a noticeable rate – say, a pound every week or so.

C. I’d work hard enough to get the health and weight-loss benefits of (A) and (B), and also to begin noticeably improving my aerobic fitness and strength.

CALCULATE YOUR SCORE
A = 1 point,
b = 2 points,
C = 3 points.

Add all of your points up then figure out which level is best for you.

If you scored:

4-6 Points: Beginner.
Gradually work up to a 20-minute walk. Keep a log of how long you walk and about how many miles you cover or steps you take. Next week add a few more minutes daily to work up to more walking.

7-9 Points: Intermediate.
You may be ready to start at with at least 20 minutes of walking a day. If this is too hard, cut back. If it’s too easy, then walk more or pick up the pace. Work on increasing duration, then speed.

10-12 Points: Advanced.
You may be able to do a 45-minute to 60-min- ute walk daily. If this feels like too much, start more gradually. If it’s too easy, pick up your speed or add other activities.

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