(HealthDay News) -- Walking is the most popular form of exercise in the United States. The average American takes between 8,000 and 10,000 steps per day. Podiatrists tout walking as one of the best exercises for your feet because it contributes to circulation, maintains weight control, and promotes overall good health.
But, says the American Podiatric Medical Association, seniors who walk for exercise need to take these precautions:
- Warm up and cool down. Stretching improves circulation and decreases build-up of lactic acid -- the chemical byproduct that causes muscles to ache.
- Choose proper footgear. Buying shoes is virtually the only necessary expense for walking, so don't cut corners on your shoe budget.
- Pay attention to your feet. Changes and/or pain in the feet and ankles are not normal and could indicate a serious foot ailment or circulatory problem.
- Walk on soft ground. With age, the natural shock absorbers (or "fat padding") in your feet deteriorate, as does bone density.
- Avoid walking in cold weather. Cold weather can cause numbness, limiting your ability to detect trauma or wounds to the feet.
- If you have diabetes, use extra care. Diabetics are prone to infection from even minor injuries.
- Exercise smart. Knowing your limits and exercising with caution can avoid injuries and frustration.