• Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Get your Walking Prescription and start walking! Complete this brief questionnaire with information about your health, your body mass index (BMI) and your walking readiness.

    The Walking Prescription Pad will provide you with a personalized guide to walking for cardiovascular health.

    BIDMC Walking Club

    "Walking has helped keep my heart ticking, both before and after heart surgery. I hope you'll join my family and me in walking for heart health."

    — John Pomfred


  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Step 1: My Health

    Are you currently under physical activity restrictions from your doctor for any reason?

    Are you currently receiving care or on medication for a chronic cardiovascular condition such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, high blood pressure or valve disease?

    Are you currently receiving care or on medication for another kind of serious chronic disease such as arthritis, diabetes or kidney disease?

    When you exercise, do you sometimes feel chest pain, dizziness or light-headedness?

    Has a doctor told you that you have orthopedic issues such as hip, knee or foot problems that could be made worse by exercise?


  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Step 2: My Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Step 2: My Body Mass Index (BMI)

    Body Mass Index is a single number that describes the relationship between your height and weight. It is an indicator of whether you are underweight, overweight or a healthy weight, and it indicates whether you are at-risk for developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

    Your BMI of 12-17 indicates that you are underweight. Your BMI of 18 indicates that you are at risk for being underweight. Your BMI of 19-24 indicates that your weight is healthy. Your BMI of 25-29 indicates that you are at risk for being overweight or obese. Your BMI is 30 or above which indicates that you are overweight or obese.

    If you are underweight or overweight, or in an at risk zone, please consult with your physician.

    You can reduce the risks associated with your BMI through a program that combines good nutrition with exercise. If you are in the normal range, keep up the good work and start a walking program for even better health.

  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Step 3: My Walking Readiness

    71 or older
    Between 61-70
    Between 41-60
    Between 18-40

    I have never been under physical restrictions from a doctor
    I have never been under physical restrictions from a doctor, but there are still reasons to be concerned about the impact of exercise on my health
    I have been under physical restrictions in the past, but I am not under physical restrictions now
    I am currently under physical restrictions from a doctor

    Poor
    Fair
    Good
    Excellent

    I rarely exercise and I am not very active
    I am fairly active but I do not exercise regularly
    I exercise fairly regularly at a moderate level
    I exercise very regularly at a vigorous level
  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    My Walking Prescription

    Name Date

    Based on the information you submitted, the Walking Club and the CardioVascular Institute at BIDMC encourage you to do the following.

    Undertake a Level Walking Program for a period of 6 weeks.
    Begin and end each walk with 5 minutes of gentle leg-stretches.
    Motivate yourself by measuring your steps with a pedometer.
    Record your walks in the log provided.
    Continue walking at the maintenance level for a period of 6 months.
    Consider moving to the next walking level for an addition 6 months.
    Note: This tool is not meant to take the place of communication with your own doctor. For questions about your health, check with your physician.
  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Getting Started

    Before beginning your walking program, it is important to make certain preparations.

    • Obtain comfortable, sturdy walking or running shoes. • Find a water bottle to bring with you to stay hydrated on long or hot walks. • Wear a hat and/or sun screen of at least SPF15 to protect you from the sun. • Buy a simple pedometer (should be less than $30 and measure steps). • Identify safe, convenient walking route or routes. • Use your calendar (or get one) to schedule your walks. • Find a friend to walk with if this will help motivate you. • Check with your doctor if you have any doubts about your physical ability to walk.

    A Word About Weight Loss

    Studies have shown that walking and other forms of regular, moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day will help improve your health and keep you fit. Your exercise prescription is oriented toward this goal.

    It is important to note that 30 minutes of walking a day is not enough to reduce your weight or prevent you from regaining weight after you've lost it. To help you lose weight, your daily walks must be 60-90 minutes, or 5-6 miles.

    2,000 Steps = 1 Mile.
    10,000 Steps = 5 Miles = A really good day!

  • Walking Prescription

    Walk to reduce cardiovascular health risks

    Level  Walking Program

    Begin your walking program as soon as you have your prescription. Mark your start and end dates on your calendar. Over time, the program will build your cardiovascular strength by increasing the following variables:

    • Frequency - The number of times you walk each week • Duration - How many minutes you walk

    As a novice walker, your primary challenge is to make a commitment and get started. Begin with a reasonable distance and increase both the time and distance of your walks as you gain strength over the weeks. You should walk at a moderate pace, so that you can feel your heart and even sweat, but you can still carry on a conversation. Instead of one walk, you may take your walk in smaller increments of at least 10 minutes, as long as they add up to the total amount recommended for each day. Your walking program should be over and above the routine activities of your day, such as housework, yard work and walking between parking lots and buildings.

    Week 1Walk 20 minutes on 3 days of the week.

    Week 2Walk 25 minutes on 3 days of the week.

    Week 3Walk 25 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 4Walk 30 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 5Walk 25 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 6 (Maintenance Level)Walk 30 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    As a regular walker, your challenge is to increase the time you spend walking. In addition, you will increase the number of days you walk.

    Week 1Walk 20 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 2Walk 25 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 3Walk 25 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 4Walk 30 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 5Walk 25 minutes on 6 days of the week.

    Week 6 (Maintenance Level)Walk 30 minutes on 6-7 days of the week.

    As an intermediate walker, your challenge is to walk consistently through the days of the week, the weeks of the month and the seasons of the year. If your walking program is interrupted by illness or other disruptions, return to your routine as soon as possible. The longer you are away from your routine, the harder it will be to get started again.

    Week 1Walk 30 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 2Walk 40 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 3Walk 35 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 4Walk 45 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 5Walk 45 minutes on 6 days of the week.

    Week 6 (Maintenance Level)Walk 5 miles in 60-70 minutes on 6-7 days of the week.

    As an advanced walker, your challenge is to maximize the aerobic benefits of walking by increasing the intensity of your walking as well — your speed.

    Week 1Walk 45 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 2Walk 50 minutes on 4 days of the week.

    Week 3Walk 45 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 4Walk 50 minutes on 5 days of the week.

    Week 5Walk 50 minutes on 6 days of the week.

    Week 6 (Maintenance Level)Walk 60-70 minutes on 6-7 days of the week.

What Next?

After you have completed your six-week walking program, it is important to keep walking for at least six months so the habit becomes part of your everyday life. Continue your Week 6 routines as your maintenance level.

More Options

SHARE the Walking Prescription Pad with a friend. Enter as many email addresses as you like.


Separate each email by a comma

SUBSCRIBE to BIDMC's free monthly e-letters, which frequently include articles about walking and cardiovascular health, as well as many other current health topics.

  • © Copyright Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
  • 617-667-7000 | TDD: 800-439-0183