Senior couple holding hands and walking in parkThere’s never a bad time to start a walking routine. It doesn’t take much time, and all you need is some comfortable and supportive shoes (or boots).

Compared to the cost of a gym membership or equipment, the cost is small, and the best part may be that the schedule is extremely flexible.

Walking is a great way to work out because it is easy to integrate into your daily life. You can fit it in when you’re just lounging around the house or hanging out in your neighborhood.

There are several health benefits linked to walking more, including:
• Better sleep
• Improved memory
• Enhanced thinking
• Less anxiety
• Fewer sugar cravings
• Less joint pain
• Stronger immunity
• Lower blood pressure
• Reduced risk for type-2 diabetes
• Improved blood flow to the body and brain

How can you incorporate more useful walking into your day?

One way is to break up long bouts of exercise into shorter ones. If you’re not capable or don’t have time to walk for 30 straight minutes per day, break it down into three 10-minute or five six-minute sessions.
Assess where you currently are and progressively increase your walking time from there. You may want to wear a step counter for a few days to get an idea of how much you’re walking, then try to add 500 more per day for the week. Next week, try another 500.

Avoid just jumping in and saying you’re going to walk five miles per day. Doing so would likely be unsustainable and result in injury. Goals are more achievable when they are incremental and give your body time to progress.

When you’re just starting out, try five minutes of slower-paced walking at the beginning and the end of each walk. Between the warm-up and cool-down, you’ll want to walk at a pace where you’re breathing relatively hard but still able to talk. Ideally, you’ll be at that pace for 20 minutes.

While walking, keep your shoulders relaxed, your head upright, and your chin looking forward. Walk on an imaginary line in front of you, with your heel striking the ground first on each step.

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