Walking is a quick and easy way to help maintain your health and wellbeing.

These days, most people are aware of the importance of exercise for both your physical and mental well-being. However, because of certain constraints – like those related to an ongoing wound care regimen – exercises like biking or lifting weights at the gym aren’t options.

That’s why walking is a great alternative exercise. Not only is it less physically demanding than some other forms, but it has a whole slew of health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. That list includes helping you lose weight, lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of ailments like type 2 diabetes.

But to make the best of walking, you have to know how to do it effectively:

1. Consider your shoes

Proper walking techniques begin with the right pair of shoes. It’s better to opt for walking or running shoes, which are geared toward supporting your feet. No matter what brand you buy, you want something that’s firm and supportive without being overly constrictive. You may also want to have two pairs available for walking; that way, you can rotate shoes and expand their lifespan. Either way, all shoes need to be replaced every year or so, depending upon your level of activity.

2. Develop proper posture

Shoes are only part of proper walking. You also need to maintain the correct posture, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. That means keeping your head up at all times and your back as straight as possible. Always swing your arms to ensure you’re making nice, fluid movements. It also helps to stretch before hitting the road; when walking, start with a slower pace for a few minutes before you build up to a steadier stride.

3. Get your other gear in order

Some people augment their walking with other pieces of equipment. If you do your walking at night, for instance, you should wear reflective gear, like a headlamp or light vest. If it’s cold enough out, make sure you wear the proper layers, or avoid walking until it warms up outside. No matter the weather, you can always wear a pedometer. Some people find that counting their steps helps them build a fitness plan and stick to it. Last but not least, always bring a water bottle for the duration of any walk.

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