The “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans” report recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This breaks down to 22 minutes of exercise a day over the course of a week.

The guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services also recommend that those who do not have the time to devote a full 22 minutes or more of physical fitness a day may break it up into small chunks over the day, and to “start low and go slow.”

Over the past couple of years, it has become a trend to walk 10,000 steps a day. Instead of going to the gym, people are walking. Walking steps are counted over the course of the day, and include such things as parking farther away from the door at the grocery story, taking an extra lap around the grocery store while you are shopping, walking in place while you are watching TV or going for a 15-minute walk during lunch. The ideas are limitless.

People are also coming together to walk as a social event. Instead of meeting over coffee, people are going out with a water bottle to walk and reach their 10,000 steps.

Remember moderation and start out slow. Not everyone will be able to meet the 10,000 steps a day to begin with. If you need to start with 2,500 steps a day and gradually work up, go for it! Remember that you know your health the best. Eventually, over time, you can slowly increase your steps as it feels comfortable for your body.

Why do we want to walk? What are the benefits?

· Lose weight.

· Improve your heart’s health.

· Tone your muscles.

· Increase your metabolism.

· Reduce the stress in your life.

· Improve your mood.

· Increase your energy.

· Decrease your chance of injuries.

· Get low-impact exercise that is gentle on your joints.

· Reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

· Strengthen your bones and joints.

How do you get started? All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and some way to count your steps. You can buy a pedometer for as little as $8 off of Amazon. You put your pedometer on first thing in the morning and it measures all the steps that you take throughout the day. Remember, this includes going to work, running to the copy machine or playing outside with your children. All of these steps count toward your total count for the day.

It does not matter what age you are — you can walk. If you are not able to walk the whole 10,000 steps a day, walk as many as you are feasibly able to and then gradually increase your amount. Walking is easy, good for you and cheap to do. Now that summer is here, it is a perfect time to start.

Adrian Kohrt is a family nutrition coordinator for Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she can be contacted at amkohrt@alaska.edu or 907-474-7930.