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Introduction to Walking

Walking is as natural to most of us as breathing, and a great activity for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Walking is the most common form of exercise in the world, and by far the most common form of physical activity done by older adults. Starting a walking program will add a healthy, fun new dimension to your life.

A good rule of thumb is to aim to walk at least 10,000 steps each day. While that may sound like a lot, it's actually much easier than you think. Simply making some simple choices like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking a little farther away from your destination can get you well on your way. One great way to keep walking fun and enjoyable is to walk with friends. There are lots of walking groups and clubs popping up all over, so look for one near you if none of your friends are into walking. If you do have friends that want to walk, it can be a great time to catch up and make sure to spend time together regularly. It's best to get on a regular schedule, so you'll always make the time to get your walking in. A lot of people like to walk in the mornings, or at lunch time. If the weather permits, try to walk outside so you get the added benefit of spending time in the outdoors.

Gear

You probably have some experience walking and know that there's no special gear required. That said, if you're serious about walking, you may want to invest in a pair of shoes made specifically for walking. Walking shoes are made to facilitate the heel-to-toe rolling motion you do when you walk. Serious walkers sometimes use walking or trekking poles to add in and arm workout to their walk, and aid in stability if you're walking on trails. You also may want to consider synthetic, non-cotton clothing, especially socks, under-layers and shirts, which wick away moisture from your body and help keep you dry and comfortable.

Technique

Believe it or not, there is a proper technique to walking. Walking with good technique will help keep you injury free, and make your walk more comfortable and productive. When you walk, you should push off with your toes (not your heels) and land on your heels. Walk with your head held high, your shoulders back and relaxed, and your stomach tight and engaged. Do not lean forwards or backwards. Take small, quick steps, bend your arms at your elbows, keep them close to your body and let them swing along beside you. Make sure to take a few minutes to warm up before your walk, and take a few minutes afterwards to cool down and stretch.

Benefits

Walking has a number of benefits - it's fun, a great workout, relieves stress and builds endurance and strength. Walking regularly is an excellent way to keep your heart and lungs healthy.