Begin a walking routine to improve your health

women walking

Maybe you’re coming back from an injury or your schedule has just been too hectic. For whatever reason, you’re back to square one with your fitness routine. In fact, you don’t even have a routine. Or do you? Walking is the simplest way to get fit — anyone can do it anywhere, anytime.

The average American takes 5,117 steps a day, which is equivalent to walking just over 2.5 miles. Before you start patting yourself on the back, you’ll want to gauge just how close to “average” you are — and then boost your mileage to take full advantage of the health benefits walking offers.

Walking 2.5 miles a day is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s far less than how much you need to walk to improve your health. Researchers define those who walk 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day as sedentary. Boosting that to 6,000 steps a day significantly reduces health risks, and 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day promotes weight loss, even without changes in your diet.

One mile is equivalent to about 2,000 steps. It doesn’t matter if those steps are made in the form of a 10-minute mile or from vacuuming laps around the couch. To get an average accounting of just how active you are, wear a pedometer throughout the day for several days. Once you’ve determined how much you’re walking in an average day, pledge to hit that mark every day, and plot out a plan to increase that goal incrementally until you get to 10,000 steps per day.

Steps for success:

  • Get properly fitted for a sturdy walking shoe. Pay now or pay later — the wrong shoe can cost you comfort and lead to injuries.
  • Buddy up with a walking partner for accountability, safety and support.
  • Post your progress on your computer, phone or simply a paper chart. Have fun with it — try plotting an imaginary journey, such as a virtual mini-marathon or trip along the Appalachian Trail.
  • Plan rewards for meeting daily, weekly or monthly goals.

- Mickey H. Gramig


Jump-start your walking routine at the Get Healthy Walking Expo!
July 12 • 9 a.m.
Louisville Zoo

  • Group fitness walk through the zoo
  • Family fitness activities
  • Heart bingo
  • Health screenings

Free for Get Healthy Walking Club mumbers; $5 for nonmembers. Registation is required. Call (502) 629-1234 to become a Get Healthy Walking member and to register for the event.