A structured walking program often works better than medicine or surgery to help people with PAD walk longer and farther without pain. Regular walking helps you
- stay active
- reduce stress
- control diabetes
- control high blood pressure
- control high cholesterol
- lose weight
- tone your muscles
- lower your risk of heart attack and stroke
Ask your doctor about a walking or treadmill program designed for you. He or she may help you design a program that is right for you or direct you to a local hospital or a cardiac rehabilitation center for guidance.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Over time, you will be able to walk longer with less pain but it may take months, so be patient with yourself!
- Aim at first to build up to 30 to 35 minutes of total walking time (not including resting time).
- Once you’re achieved 35 minutes, reset your goal to achieve 50 minutes of walking.
- Try to add five minutes each week until you can walk 50 minutes during each of three to five sessions a week.
- Once you achieve the 50-minute goal, challenge yourself to work harder, perhaps walking up a hill or the stairs, or adjusting the treadmill’s incline. When your schedule doesn’t allow walking the full 50 minutes, try to work in several shorter sessions during the day.
- Walk at least three to five times a week.
Recommended Walking Routine
- Begin each walk by walking slowly for several minutes
- Take a few minutes to gently stretch the thigh and calf muscles in your legs
- Walking may hurt at first – and that’s good. In fact, the goal is to walk at a pace that causes mild or moderate pain or tightness in your legs within three to five minutes. On a scale of 1 (least) to 5 (highest) level of pain, mild or moderate pain would be 3 or 4. When you reach this level of pain, stop to rest.
Walk at a pace that causes mild or moderate leg pain, then rest. Repeat several times.
- To end your walking session, walk slowly for the last five minutes.
- Take another minute or two to gently stretch your leg muscles.
Stick with it!
Be patient with yourself even if you feel you’re not improving.
Make walking your top priority.
You can print this Walking Guide here (PDF version).