Win $500 Cash! The Holiday Desserts recipe contest is on now. ENTER HERE →

The path to wellness can often seem overwhelming, especially when you’re just getting back into a routine. It can be intimidating and even expensive to start an exercise routine. Here’s the thing when it comes to working out: it costs money and time. Expensive equipment and overexertion can lead to pain in the pocketbook and in your muscles. The best way to integrate a new workout routine is to take it one step at a time, and walking is a great way to take that first step to wellness.

Walking is one of the most highly effective, highly efficient ways to workout. It might seem almost too simple, just walking as a way to improve health, but the mental and physical benefits of a regular walk are too good to pass up.

Walking is cost-effective.
Walking is one of the more cost-effective ways to workout. A good pair of sturdy walking shoes and socks that wick sweat will keep your feet happy and healthy as you embark on a regular walking routine. This is far less expensive than paying for a monthly gym membership (that often goes unused) or any weights and equipment that often becomes a source of clutter and a reminder of not working out. Walking is as close to free as fitness can get.

Fresh air is good for mental health.
I’ve found that a few minutes spent outside does wonders for my energy level. Spending so much time seated and in front of my computer makes me feel tired and when I’m tired, I’m prone to making choices – like reaching out for caffeine and/or sugar – that don’t serve me well in the long term. A walk, even a brief one, can stimulate our senses, make us feel more awake. Walking also gives you a chance to think, to step away from the focused task on your computer, and instead let your mind wander and your eyes rest. Take a moment, too, to stretch your eye muscles by looking off into the distance. Your eyes will also benefit from your walking workout.

Walking has outstanding physical benefits.
A healthy heart is a happy heart, and one way to keep our hearts happy and healthy is to get the blood pumping. A brisk walk that gently increases our heart rate will give this very important muscle the strength it needs to keep us in good working order. Lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and increasing oxygenated blood flow are all positive side effects that walking provides. Boosting your immune system, upping your metabolism, and releasing positive-feeling endorphins are ways that walking does the hidden work of improving our overall health and well-being.

Make it social.
A walk by yourself is a great way to make room for some self-care, but walking is also a great way to be social. Organize with a couple of friends to take weekly (if not daily) walks together. This will keep you accountable and make the whole experience all the more enjoyable.

Sample Walking Workout: 20 minutes

To Start: 5 minutes walking at a slow pace to warm up muscles, stop to stretch calf muscles, and do some ankle mobility exercises like turning ankles clockwise 5 times and counterclockwise 5 times.

Get Moving: 10 minutes brisk walk, slow enough to still have a conversation but fast enough to increase your heart rate and breathing.

Cool Down: 5 minutes to cool down. Lower your walking speed to a more casual pace, gently bringing your heart rate down. Stop to stretch again, as in the first 5 minutes.

A healthy fitness routine doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can walk your way to wellness with the same ease that it takes for an apple a day to keep the doctor away. The list of benefits from a regular walking routine, like improved sleep, less stress, immune system boost, and generally feeling good are all reasons to turn a simple walk into an extraordinary health benefit.

Subscribe to 12 Tomatoes