Though some people treat “walk” like a four-letter word, walking is a great way to safely develop an active lifestyle.

Walking puts your legs and arms through the same general range of motion as running, but without the same impact on your bones and joints.

First things first. As with any new exercise activity the place to start is your doctor’s office. If you’re over 40, have a family history of heart disease or other health problems, it is extra-important to see a doctor before starting any new exercise program. Resist the temptation to just wear any old pair of tennis shoes for your workouts. Worn-out or ill-fitting shoes are one of the most common causes of injury. At Dave’s Performance Footgear our fit specialists will analyze your gait, review your history and find the best fitting pair of shoes.

Now you’re read to get started. Start small and build slowly. The idea of “starting an exercise routine,” can seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be. The walk should be brisk – not a race walk, but not a window-shopping walk either. Begin with a 15-minute walk. The next day, do it again. If you’re feeling strong on the second day, add a few minutes. Set a goal and add a few minutes each day. Shoot for thirty minutes by the end of the second week.

Keep a journal of how long and how far you walk each day. Make a note of how you felt while you were walking. You might also want to note the temperature and what you wore. A journal will also help to keep you accountable and motivated. It’s always encouraging to see how much you’ve accomplished.

Establish a workout routine that blends well into the rhythm of your daily life. Figure out what times of day are most convenient to work out. Find a variety of safe, traffic-free routes that you can take on a regular basis. The best time of day to walk is when walking works best for you. For many people that’s first thing in the morning. For some it’s mid-day. Still others prefer to walk early in the evening. The key here is to find the time or times that work best for you.

Want to drop a few pounds? You can’t out exercise a bad diet. The most effective way to lose weight is to reduce calories while increasing calories burned through regular exercise. Slashing too many calories will cause your energy levels to plummet, making it more difficult to maintain your exercise program. Try to consume 300 fewer calories per day. Combined with the calories you’ll be burning through walking, you can expect to lose a half-pound to 1 pound per week. You can add columns to your journal to help track you’re the calories you’re taking in. Studies have shown that those who keep food diaries – who are also reading nutrition labels and becoming aware of portions – lose more weight than those who don’t.

There is strength in numbers, add people and activities. Finding a partner or group to walk with is a great way to stay motivated and have fun. Enlist a buddy for your first outing to a metropark trail, or try a group workout or a class. Connecting with others increases your chances of sticking with an exercise routine and makes it more fun. Adding variety and connecting with others helps keep you and your friends on track.

Walking is one of the most affordable, convenient and fun ways to get fit, lose weight, reduce stress, and establish an active lifestyle. For more advice and a complimentary shoe fitting, stop into any Dave’s Performance Footgear location. Dave’s can help you start walking, get in shape, and stick with it.