Woman Walking on Treadmill

As I have gotten older, I find myself giving up a lot of the high impact exercises in  favor of something more tame. Years of kick boxing (does anyone out there remember Tae-Bo? I loved that.) and even Zumba feel a little bit over my head. I still want to sweat, and know I’ve worked out but skip some of the jumping gyrations of my younger days. Like many Americans, I have discovered a love for walking. I don’t mean strolling–I mean walking like I mean it. If you are a walker or thinking of taking up this effective low-impact exercise, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your workout.

1: Wear good shoes. Walking shoes don’t have to be expensive, but do try to take those strides in a pair of well-fitting sneakers with good support to prevent complications like muscle cramps and pain.

2. Walk about 22 steps every 10 seconds for maximum cardiovascular benefit. How fast is that? Wear a watch and time your steps. Keep that pace for 30 minutes, and walk 3-4 times a week to get your heart pumping. Want to estimate your caloric burn? You can estimate that here or invest in a pedometer to do the work for you.

3. Walk early. Studies show that walking earlier in the day helps you work out longer and more effectively. Brain drain (mental fatigue) can actually make a workout feel harder–so avoid a rigorous walk at the end of the day. If you are feeling stressed, take a slow stroll to calm yourself.

4. Log your walk. Men and women who log their walk with an app or other system tend to walk 15% further than others. And with so many programs available, there’s sure to be one that’s right for you. If you are an iPhone user, check out Map my Walk–it’s recommended by Dr. Oz.

5. Change your routine. Even the most pumped program can be boring when you do the same routine day after day. To combat the mundane, vary your walking route, walk with a friend, and try new terrains from time to time. Even adding a new song to your playlist can help you reach your goals with more energy and revive the day.