If like my very good friend Delia, you are not going to wait for “New Year resolution” (aka Dec 31st) to start feeling better, taking care of yourself, and most importantly doing something for yourself an easy way to start is walking.

If you can afford it, you could take advantage of any of the great sales and get a treadmill, or if space is a problem, it is still nice outside and lastly, there is always the malls that open before the stores are opened and they are open late these days….so no really an excuse here please.

The first thing to keep in mind is to wear a good pair of shoes. You don’t need to spend lots of money however a shoe that has a pretty flexible sole and is high enough to hold your ankles is the best investment you can do when starting any walking program. Also a cushioned sole that will absorb impact will help those with knee problems or to prevent them.

Whether you walk indoors in a treadmill or not, always remind yourself to keep your eyes looking straight ahead, keeping your arms on the side (avoid crossing them in front of your body) in a forward and backward motion and neck relaxed. Some people choose to smile and make sure their face muscles are relaxed too. Maintain a good posture with your shoulders relaxed, tummy pulled in and head up.

When starting to walk, instead of landing or stepping on your heels, make use of the mid-section of your feet. If you roll through the balls of the center of your feet, it will be much easier for you to walk without taking a toll on your knees. This is especially important if you are overweight or have knee pain.

If you are new or just returning to exercise, your speed and length of time spent walking are not as important as getting out regularly to develop the habit of walking, suggests the American Council on Exercise. If it’s hard to catch your breath or hold a conversation while walking, slow down. Divide your walking time into smaller segments spaced throughout the day, if that works better for you.

When using a treadmill maintain a certain safe distance from the control panel standing at the center of the treadmill band and walk to make the process smooth and effortless.

When you are ready to step up the pace, walk five days per week and add two minutes of brisk walking time each week. Always start with five minutes of walking at a moderate pace to warm up, followed by a brisk walking segment, and ending with a five-minute slower walk to cool down. For the first week, walk briskly for five minutes. From week two to six, increase your brisk walking segment by two minutes each week. By week six you are walking briskly for 15 minutes. In week seven, increase the brisk walking time to 18 minutes. From week eight to twelve, add two minutes of brisk walking each week. By week 12, you are walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days per week for a total of 150 minutes each week. This is the amount of time recommended for adults to engage in moderate aerobic activity each week according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Let’s start walking! And improving, one day at a time