If someone told you there was a way to exercise that does not require a pricey gym membership or athletic skill and is actually relaxing, what would you say? No doubt, the answer would be “sign me up!”

Walking is the singular most popular form of exercise in the United States, but may be taken for granted since it is an act that many of us do each day without considering it an aerobic activity. However, the results of walking are physically rewarding and lead to a trimmer body, greater fitness and enhanced general health.

One of the wonderful aspects of starting a walking routine, known as exercise-walking, is that it can be done almost anywhere and at any time, regardless of weather. You can walk to the store, in a mall, around your neighborhood, with your dog, with a group of friends, or on your own. In addition, it is a great form of exercise for those who have a long history ofactivity, problems with obesity or who simply does not like strenuous activity.

Before you get started on your new walking routine, most podiatrists recommend finding sensible, comfortable walking shoes to ensure proper foot health. Wear thick, absorbent socks and footwear that is stable from side to side and well-cushioned. Since buying shoes is the only real monetary investment you need to make for your walking regimen, do not try to cut costs. Buy your shoes for quality, comfort and fit. If you are certain about how to choose the shoes that are best for your body and your walking style and stride, go to a shoe store that specializes in athletic shoewear and focuses on the fit that you need.

If you are free of any serious health problems, then your walking routine is ready to hit the road immediately. A checkup is recommended if you are over the age of 60, have a disease, disability or are taking medication. A medical exam is also recommended if you are 35 to 60, substantially overweight, easily fatigued, an excess smoker, or physically inactive.

Here's a few tips for getting started. Begin by taking 20 minute walks, moving at your own pace but brisk enough to make your heart beat faster. Walk with your head and back straight and stomach tight, keeping your legs out front and knees slightly bent. As you are walking, try to land on the heel of your foot and roll forward to push off on the ball of your foot. Do not forget to cool down by stretching at the end of each session.