Your Guide to Go From the Couch to Walking a 5K

Jessica Smith
by Jessica Smith
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Your Guide to Go From the Couch to Walking a 5K

With this walking guide, you’ll safely and gradually progress from little-to-no regular exercise to a 5K (approximately 3.1 miles) walk. Or, if you have already been exercising, but are ready to take things to the next level, you can adapt the plan by jumping ahead to week two or three. While there isn’t a time requirement to finish, you may want to set a personal time goal such as 45–60 minutes.

On average, walking briskly means you’d complete 1 mile in about 15 minutes — and that’s the general range this plan uses (and how we’ve calculated approximate weekly mileage). You may find you need more time to complete a mile (especially in the beginning) and that’s perfectly fine. There’s no speed requirement for the suggested timed walks in this plan, so while you may need to start out at a more gradual pace, you also want to focus on picking up your pace a little each week or each walk. Improving your time per mile is a great way to gauge your progress as your fitness level improves with consistent training.

Be sure to focus on progress, not perfection, as you work your way through this plan, and celebrate your victories each week. Treat yourself to a new audiobook, a pair of walking shoes or another reward of your choice for each weekly goal you achieve.

Finally, don’t forget to listen to your body as you go. If you find you need more recovery or rest time during your week, add it in as needed. If the weekly goal is too much for you to take on at the moment, you may choose to shorten your time and/or repeat a week (this plan can be easily stretched into six or more weeks if needed).

Couch to 5K Walking Guide

*Perform a few, total-body stretches after your walk (such as the ones included here: 5 Stretches to Improve Your Walks) to help reduce stiffness.

**While these sessions are optional, adding in a few days of cross-training activities such as strength training (suggested: 5 Strength Exercises All Beginners Should Know) can help you continue to build your fitness and overall strength, all of which can help you reach your 5K goal feeling faster and stronger.

About the Author

Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith

As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. She now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit to learn more about her fun, results-driven programs for all levels of exercisers.


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