Did you know that when you run, you're pounding the pavement with three to four times your body weight? Ouch!

Do you know which burns more calories: running a kilometre or walking a kilometre? The answer: unless you're walking slowly enough to also be eating an ice cream, you will burn about the same number of calories!

When most of us decide to start a fitness program, full of enthusiasm and energy, we tend to want to take a dramatic step such as joining an expensive health club or training for a marathon -- walking just isn't sexy, is it? However, it ranks as arguably the best form of exercise because almost everyone can walk, it doesn't require expensive equipment (well O.K., there's the shoes!), it can be done at any time, at any intensity and there are amazing health benefits.

But walking can be so much more than just a "healthy thing to do"! Your body doesn't know whether you're walking barefoot on a sandy beach looking out over a turquoise sea or striding along on a $3,600 treadmill wearing $200 Nikes! Your head will know... and your spirit! We all need to retreat from the real world from time to time – to take time for ourselves, get away from the daily pressures. Walking can heal the troubled mind and restore the spirit; how can you not feel good about the world and yourself on a sunny day walking in the park surrounded by lush green trees and grass with the scent of lilac in the air?( okay maybe it’s the scent of the hot-dog vendor.)

Once walking becomes a habit, you carry that happy feeling with you every time you walk. If you have a treadmill at home, make using it into a pleasant experience; watch your favorite sit-com or listen to lively music. Using a pedometer motivates some people and the "10,000 step" program has become popular.

10,000 steps may seem like an unreachable goal. How far is 10,000 steps anyway? If you were to walk one mile, you would be walking just over 2,000 steps as an average person's stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long. Therefore it would take you just over 5 miles to get in your 10,000 steps.

A person living a sedentary lifestyle averages 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. You’re probably wondering how you would be able to keep track of your steps, seeing how counting to 10,000 is unrealistic! Wearing a device called a pedometer is an easy way to track your steps each day. Start by wearing it every day for one week. When you get up in the morning put it on and wear it until bed time. You should keep a log or notebook to record your daily steps so that by the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. It is not only a good idea to record your daily steps, but also how you feel, how your body is improving and other changes you are making in improving your health. You might be surprised how many (or how few) steps you get in each day.

If you are struggling to think of ways in which you can increase your daily steps, here are some ideas:

Get off a few stops earlier on the bus or train to walk to your destination
Plan a “date night” with your spouse, children or friends to have a daily or weekly walk together.
Use you lunch or breaks to go for a walk
• If you have a child in a stroller – take them out for a nice stroll
Walk the dog – or offer to walk someone else’s
• Whenever possible, use the stairs instead of the elevator
• When you go shopping, park further from the entrance then finding a spot up close
Walk to the store instead of driving
• Instead of doing business over a coffee, do it over a walk
• Get up to change the channel instead of using the remote
Window shop – but leave that credit card at home!!

Happy Walking Trails !!

Cathy Morenzie is a Fitness Columnist for AfroToronto.com

Cathy Morenzie is a certified personal fitness trainer, fitness instructor and Pilates instructor. Cathy specializes in providing creative fitness solutions for people on the go and has trained thousands of clients and trainers over the last 20 years.  For more FREE tips like these, visit her site at http://www.activeimage.ca . or call 416-410-8517. Can''t fit personal training sessions into your schedule … no problem - try our online personal training and receive the benefits of one-on-one personal training at a fraction of the cost.