person walking on an outdoor trail

Walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into your day and one that offers plenty of benefits besides getting from point A to point B. It doesn't require any expensive, fancy equipment or specialized training. You already know how to do it--and you do it every day. But, probably you should be doing it more.

Walking can keep you healthy beyond your waistline. It relieves stress, improves circulation, boosts the immune system, combats depression, and can help prevent diabetes, osteoporosis, and arthritis.

The faster and longer you walk--especially the kind that raises your heart rate--the more you dramatically cut down your chances of serious diseases like heart disease. A study by Harvard University showed that women who walk at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day had a 40 percent drop in their risks for heart disease.

If you walk outside, the fresh air can help clear your head and the vitamin D from sunshine can also help boost your mood. Walking with a friend or loved one can help strengthen your relationship.

Keep Walking in Your Day

It seems that the more a society advances, the less people walk. Think of all the moving sidewalks, elevators, escalators, and drive-thru around today. We are moving closer to using power chairs like in the movie Wall-E than ever before.

But if you want to stay healthy and not spend hours in the gym, walking can be your trick. Here are some quick ways to make sure you are adding more steps to your day:

  • Turn off the TV and get outside.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Take the long way home.
  • Park in the back of the lot.
  • Walk short trips instead of driving.
  • Invite friends for walks instead of meeting at a coffee shop.
  • Walk while talking on the phone.
  • Read while walking on a treadmill.
  • Walk out the front door and casually. You don't have to have a destination because the journey can be the adventure.

Get a Walking Buddy

A friend, spouse, partner, neighbor, child, or grandchild can be a great motivator. While exercise is the primary goal, the time spent walking can be a chance to stay connected with the person. You can share your troubles, concerns, dreams, aspirations, or whatever you would like.

Step It Up

The more you walk, the more your body will be able to handle. Try mixing things up a bit and incorporate more challenges into your walking: use hand weights; take bigger hills; or extending the distance you travel. Take different routes to keep the monotony down.

The more challenges you create for yourself, the more rewarding walking will be. If you walk with someone else, such as a friend or a partner, keep challenging each other to go one more block or a few more minutes. Don't make it a competition, but make it a friendly way to keep each other healthy.

The Bottom Line

Your health and well-being should be a top priority and walking is a simple way to make great improvements. Even Oprah--the queen of trying new exercise and diet snacks --incorporates walking into her fitness routine, every day.

So, if you're looking for your motivation, wake up every morning, take a good look at your footwear and say what Nancy Sinatra did: "Are you ready boots? Start walking'!"