Americans are on the go. According to a NSGA Survey, 71
million American adults are exercise walkers, making
walking the top sport in the United States. Taking steps daily
to improve health will help with America's obesity epidemic.
Sixty five percent of Americans are overweight, which is
linked to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and some types
of cancer. Walking an extra 2000 steps a day is equivalent to
walking a distance of 1 mile and to burning 100 calories.
Burning an extra 100 calories a day is equivalent to losing
about 10 pounds in a year.
The American Podiatric Medical Association teamed with
Prevention Magazine to name the "12 Best Walking Cities in
the U.S." The cities were examined based on their crime
rate, air quality, mass transit, historic sites, museums,
parks and gyms. The top 12 cities were San Francisco, San
Diego, Honolulu, Washington, DC, San Antonio, El Paso, St.
Louis, Madison, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and New
National campaigns, health practitioners and even major
corporations are encouraging Americans to walk more.
Unfortunately, many sedentary individuals who start walking
programs quickly develop foot problems. Almost sixty
million Americans have foot problems and many develop
them after beginning a new exercise routine. A foot injury
can take weeks, even months to heal and many will gain
more weight during this healing period. Preventing these
problems through education will keep Americans walking.
1. Buy a shoe made for walking. Make sure the shoe has
enough stability and support. If you can fold the shoe in half,
it is too flexible. Make sure the shoe has enough room at the
toes and is fitted well at the heel.
2. Start on flat surfaces. Do not start a walking program
walking on hills or stairs.
3. Start with a short distance. Stick with that distance for a
week. If you are pain free and injury free, increase the
distance the following week.
4. Start with an easy pace. Increase your pace gradually.
5. Choose soft surfaces. Walking on a track or a trail will
decrease the impact on your feet and legs. Cement can be
a particularly hard surface to walk on.
6. Limit your time on the treadmill. Treadmills can contribute
to the development of foot problems. Start with the treadmill
flat and at a slow pace. Slowly increase your pace each
week. Increase the incline after you have reached a
7. Stop if you feel foot or ankle pain. Don't try to walk through
8. Examine your feet. Look areas of rub or irritation the first
few weeks of your walking program and then again after
trying new shoes or socks. Moleskin can be placed on
areas of irritation to help decrease friction. Do not use
bandaids on these areas.
9. Consider wearing orthotics. Individuals with flat feet may
need inserts for their shoes. When buying inserts, look for
sport othotics, as opposed to cushioned insoles. A more
rigid insert will offer more support. Custom orthotics can be
made by a podiatrist if necessary.
10. Avoid cotton socks. Synthetic socks decrease friction,
prevent excess rubbing and don't absorb moisture. Your
local running store or sports store should carry a variety of
new high-tech socks for walking.
Consult your podiatrist if you start to develop pain when
walking, or consider a visit before embarking on your new
Christine Dobrowolski is a podiatrist and the author of
Those Aching Feet: Your Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment
of Common Foot Problems. To learn more about Dr.
Dobrowolski and her book visit