You Can Stroll, Strut, Shuffle or Skip. Be Yourself — Just Don’t Sit.

The first step toward a healthier life is actually, a step. Walking is one of the most effective forms of exercise. If you can incorporate extra steps into your daily routine, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

By adopting a regular walking routine, you can:

  • Increase HDL (“good” cholesterol) and lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Increase muscle tone and bone density
  • Increase energy, stamina and metabolism
  • Reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), back pain and arthritis
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity
  • Reduce stress

How many steps do you have to take for your body to feel the benefits? The recommended number of steps per day is 10,000. By wearing a pedometer, you can track your steps easily. Try wearing a pedometer for one day without changing your normal routine — you might be surprised at how much walking you’re doing already. Once you know your number, use it as a baseline for creating a more focused walking routine that’s right for you.

If you don’t have a pedometer, just track the amount of time you spend walking throughout the week. You should aim for 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week.

Want to know if you’re walking at an effective pace? Try singing. It should be easy to carry a conversation while walking, but difficult to carry a tune.

Here are some more tips to help you get the most out of your walking routine:

  • Choose comfortable, supportive shoes, such as running, walking or cross-training shoes, or light hiking boots.
  • For longer walks, warm up with stretching exercises. Include a cool-down period to reduce stress on your heart and muscles.
  • Practice correct posture — head upright, with arms bent at the elbows and swinging as you stride.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after walking to cool your active muscles and keep your body hydrated.

Most importantly — make it enjoyable. If you’re not looking forward to your walks, ask your friends to come along or switch up your route. Get into a routine that’s right for you and be sure to stick with it!