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How to Step Up Your Walking Work-Out

Walking is the most natural exercise for your body. After all, you've been doing it since about age two. It's both weight bearing and low-impact aerobic - two essential ingredients for every exercise program.

You can step up your walking work-out with proper walking shoes - an essential component to optimize performance and minimize injuries. All athletic shoe manufacturers have designated walking shoes. Do not use running shoes for walking; your alignment and gait are different when you run.

If you really want to take walking to another level, check out the collection of shoes from MBT, which stands for "Masai Barefoot Technology." Nicknamed, "the anti shoe" or "the Pilates shoe", MBT technology was inspired by the Masai tribe of Africa who are known for their excellent posture and lack of joint and back problems despite the fact that they often run barefoot on uneven surfaces.

The MBT shoe has a rounded bottom and thick soul that creates a natural instability which forces your body to engage your core muscles, even when standing still. That means you can burn calories without doing anything! While you're walking in MBT's, they help improve posture, circulation and tone in your legs, abs and glutes. The design also reduces pressure on your lower back, feet arches and joints. While they're a bit pricey (about $250), the added benefits are well worth the money. Stores often have sales on older models. Or check out the new lower priced versions from Skechers for about $110.

As with any regular activity, you can develop bad habits in walking too. In the book, Chi Walking, you can relearn proper walking technique and alignment, while creating a mindful walking work-out.

Walking is easy and inexpensive to do anywhere, anytime. To help get you going longer and faster, here are a few suggestions:

* Walk with a friend at a scheduled time or day; you'll go more often and last longer. * Listen to fast-paced music; you'll build up speed. * Catch up on your phone calls while walking; the time will fly. * Get a dog; you'll have to take her out for a daily walk. * Make a regular habit of walking after dinner; you'll digest better while burning calories.