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Published:May 3rd, 2006 05:35 EST
Fitness Walking 101

Fitness Walking 101

By Nikki Savastone

The wrath of winter has finally broken to the longer days and warmer temperatures of spring and summer. Flowers bloom among fresh green grass, birds chirp and many people have a renewed longing for spending time outdoors. Therefore, it is the perfect time to begin walking away the winter weight or simply taking a current fitness routine on the road.

Walking is one of the most beneficial and most popular forms of exercise. American Sports Data, Inc. reports that 37 million men and women walk at least once a week with over 10 million women walking specifically for fitness. The popularity of walking relates to its simplicity; all one needs to begin fitness walking is a good pair of shoes and the desire.

A shoe that fits correctly will help prevent blisters and other injuries. A good rule of thumb is to look for comfort and fit, not fancy design ", said Dr. Martin Ellman of the Rochester, Minn., Mayo Clinic. The latest technology won`t matter a bit if the shoe pinches, pokes or hurts your foot in any way. " When shopping for a new shoe, Dr. Ellman recommends trying on shoes with the socks you wear walking, shop at an athletic store with professional shoe fitters and make sure to try on both shoes.

Once correct shoes have been purchased, walking can commence. If extra motivation is still required, ask a friend or family member to join. The Mayo Clinic recommends light stretching and starting at a slow pace to warm-up the muscles. Then, walk for 15 minutes the first few days and gradually increase the time. Speed depends on the walker, but one should feel they are using moderate effort.

The Walking Site ( states that a person should aim for 10,000 steps per day, which is approximately five miles. A pedometer is the easiest way to keep track of one`s steps and if you need to increase your step count try parking farther from the store or use the stairs more often. Walking just a few extra steps can add-up quickly.

Walking is also adaptable. It can be done at anytime of the day and in any area that is suitable to the walker. So, lace up the sneakers and get moving.