BEFORE starting your own walking program, discuss your plans with your health care provider to make sure there are no medical conditions or physical limitations that would prevent you from safely walking. 

There may be heart or blood pressure concerns or limitations imposed by current medicines, arthritis, balance, posture, loss of sensation in the feet or even obesity. Cardiologists and internists, even cautiously may ask you to have exercise test on a treadmill to evaluate your initial walking ability and the capacities of your cardiopulmonary heart and lung system.

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A good pair of shoes is one key to success. It's very important that you wear shoes that fit comfortably- neither too loose nor too tight. Don’t wear shoes that are too worn. Also, always wear socks or stockings to prevent blisters, especially if you have diabetes.

You must have a regular schedule for walking. Establish a time when you can devote an hour or more times a week. Treat your walking as an "appointment with oneself." If the schedule is not followed, try to reschedule as soon as possible.

Select a place where it is not polluted, where terrain may offer various challenges in terms of incline and difficulties but also near a help station just in case, something happens. Most elderly prefer the air-conditioned comfort of a big mall, intentionally avoiding the escalators and taking the stairs instead. The younger, more adventurous ones prefer the open wide space of a park.

Set a goal. A regular walking program increases the speed, distance and time you can walk before experiencing pain. The benefits from walking occur gradually, will become noticeable over two or three months, depending on the intensity and duration and distance covered. Remember too, that you must keep on walking to maintain the improvements. Hopefully, you find walking so helpful, enjoyable and healthful that it becomes a permanent part of your life.

Lest you forget the basic and practical tips. As with any exercise, it's a good idea to have a warm up, with easy gentle stretching of the muscles of the thigh and the calf. Begin slowly, gradually increasing your pace. Try to walk at a pace that causes some pain in three to five minutes. Unlike most advice to stop when you feel pain in other parts of the body, walking until you experience moderate pain in the legs stimulates improvement in people with leg symptoms.

However, if the pain gets persistent and more severe, stop, rest until the pain is gone, which may take several minutes.

Repeat the walk-stop-rest sequence several times, the goal is to walk for a total of 60 minutes during each session, not counting the rest breaks. Of course, beginners may just complete 10-20 minutes at first but you must gradually increase the pace and distance as you get used to the rigors of the exercise.

Don’t forget the right clothing and protect yourself from the sun with a hat, long sleeves, and sunscreen. And most of all, your water. Finish by doing some gentle leg stretches of the thigh and leg muscles with deep slow breathing.

Wow, what a feeling! Energized, probably detoxified and ready to face life's challenges.