Did you know that walking is one of the best exercises you can do to keep yourself healthy and in shape? If you walk just one mile a day you will burn at least 100 calories, and this could result in a loss of ten pounds in a year without changing your eating habits.

You don’t need any special equipment, or special training since you already know how to do it, and it’s FREE! Of course, if you choose to use the facilities provided in a gym or other exercise emporium, you will have to pay. But why go around and around a track looking at the same old scenery (if there is any) every day when you can enjoy fresh air and take a different route every day by just taking a brisk stroll down the street?

The image that comes to mind when one thinks of “aerobics” is of a classroom setting with an instructor showing a lot of people how to make moves that seem almost like dancing – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But you don’t have to join an exercise group and invest in proper “exercise attire” to enjoy the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise is defined as “conditioning the heart and lungs by increasing the efficient intake of oxygen by the body.” Walking fits this description perfectly. But there are many more benefits that are realized by aerobic exercise.

It is a good way to condition the body for other more strenuous aerobic activities such as jogging. It also strengthens your leg and back muscles, improves the bones, strengthens the heart and gives one a sense of accomplishment that comes when you know you’ve done something good for yourself.

There is really no right or wrong way, but for your own safety and comfort there are a few guidelines that you’ll need to observe.

You will, of course, have to ask for your doctor’s advice and approval before you start exercise of any description.

One of the most important aspects is to be sure you have proper shoes. No, you don’t have to buy an expensive pair, but they should have cushioned heels, a flexible sole with wide toes, and a comfortable collar around the top edge. Wear clothing that allows you to move freely and is suitable for the weather or indoor environment.

As with any form of exercise, you should begin your session with warm-up and stretching exercises to prepare the muscles for activity and to prevent spasms or damage to the muscles. We’re not talking about a professional warm-up here; simply a few well-chosen exercises such as walking in place a few minutes, and stretching your leg and back muscles.

It is suggested by some fitness experts that you gradually increase the speed and length of your exercise regimen to receive maximum benefits by moving briskly until you achieve true aerobic status.

This means that the heart rate and pulse should reach a certain level which is sustained for a period of time. For example, the rate to aim for is your target rate, beyond which there is no further health benefit. There are charts available to help you find your target rate, which is determined according to your age. You will have achieved aerobic benefits when you can keep up this rate for twenty minutes.

Even if you don’t get into monitoring your heart and pulse rate and walking at a sustained pace, the benefits you receive from walking for health are tremendous.

The general advice is that before you begin any kind of exercise regimen, you must consult a doctor to make sure you’re fit to exercise.