Walking is perhaps the easiest of all forms of exercise, and also one of the safest. Unlike running, it is not hard on the knees. It usually doesn’t cause any injuries or unpleasant side effects. Are there any disadvantages? Well, walking is less intense than other fitness methods, and that means it make take longer to have a visible effect on your body. If you’re in a hurry to get in shape, then you may have to take up other exercises as well. But there’s really no reason to give up walking. Even if you are already trying other forms of exercise, walking regularly can’t hurt, and can surely help.

How much should you walk? Doctors recommend that you walk briskly for at least 30 minutes a day–and yes, that is every day. What is a “brisk pace” though? About five to six kilometers per hour. You don’t have to do your daily 30 minutes all in one go, either. You can get much the same results by walking three or four times a day at the proper pace for about ten minutes at a time. With such flexibility, it is very easy to incorporate a daily walk into your regular schedule.

What exactly does walking do for you? Several things; it strengthens your heart and so can help to ward off heart disease; it lowers your blood pressure; it can increase the amount of “good cholesterol” or high density lipoprotein in your blood. According to some doctors, regular walking can cut your risk of getting a heart attack by half.

Walking is also a good way for some people to lose body fat and maintain a “fighting weight.” This is especially true as you get older, when you tend to be more susceptible to weight gain. Walking can increase your metabolic rate for the day and thus help you to avoid putting on the pounds.

That’s not all. Walking has also been shown to prevent or delay the onset of such diseases as arthritis, diabetes, and osteoporosis, and to decrease the risk of suffering a stroke caused by a blood clot. Furthermore, walking is also considered a good treatment for depression. Studies have shown that people on antidepressants who exercised by walking had a lower risk of experiencing a relapse.

If you decide to walk for exercise, buy a good pair of shoes that offers a little space at the front of each shoe, to let your feet spread. Take it slow at first. Always start with some warm up stretches and exercises. Don’t forget to cool down as well. This will help you avoid getting muscle aches. And keep track of your efforts. See if you can walk for longer and farther over time. Seeing your own success will encourage you to keep on walking.