Deciding to become a little more active than you are right now can lead to improvements in your health and outlook on life, as well as to reductions in your pain.

Walking is the easiest activity to increase, since you already do it throughout the day. But how much more should you do? How often should you do it? How fast should you go? For how long?

The FIT formula – Frequency (how often), Intensity (how fast) and Time (how long) – helps you find answers. When you walk or do any physical activity, start at a low level and increase slowly. Doing too much too fast can lead to injuries that set you back instead of move you forward. 

When you’re ready to increase your activity, alter just one part of the FIT formula at a time. "That way, if trouble begins, such as pain in the knee, it is easier to tell which component of the exercise program caused the problem,” says Sharon Hame, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine. “Then the problem can easily be corrected and another area of the program advanced.” 

To start: If you can tolerate only a five-minute walk, then start by walking just five minutes a day on two or three days per week, maybe as slow as one mile per hour (mph). Build slowly from there. If you already go for walks occasionally but want to make walking a habit, start by walking at least 10 to 15 minutes while maintaining the same speed, about 2 mph or 3 mph, three days per week. .