MINNEAPOLIS -- You don't need an expensive gym membership to get started down the road to fitness. All you really need is a comfortable pair of shoes and the commitment to make walking part of your daily routine.

According to Mayo Clinic,"walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that will help you ease into a higher level of fitness and health."

Health Fair 11 is providing some useful tools and information to get you motivated. On this page you will find tips on starting a walking program. We'll provide a link to an easy-to-use website for tracking your steps. We'll also connect you with the Step To It Challenge created by Hennepin County Public Health.

Getting started

Walking is considered a gentler form of exercise. Even so, you will want to make sure you warm up for about five minutes before starting on your walk. You can avoid stiffness by allowing for a five to ten minutes of cool down time. As with any exercise, proper form is important. Click here for some guidelines from the professionals. Proper shoes are also important. If you're looking for help in choosing the right walking shoes, check out this link from Mayo Clinic.

Track your trek
The most common way to track your trek is by using a pedometer. These small, golf ball-sized devices clip to your waistband and count the number of steps you are taking. Pedometer prices can range from just a couple dollars to more than $100 for elaborate devices that offer online support.

But you don't need a pedometer to track your trek. Considering using a tool provided by the USA Track & Field organization's website: Simply enter the address for the starting point of your walk. Then you place markers on the map to note the route you took. The website calculates the distance for you. You can 'save' the route so others in your community can use it too. Best of all, you don't need to fill out any registration forms, and the site is ad-free!

Step To It Challenge

Hennepin County's Public Health Department has an easy-to-use program to help you start a walking program. It's called the Step To It Challenge. Click here for a link to their site. On it, you will be able to log your walks and keep a running total of the amount of steps you are taking.

The Step To It website also has a chart that converts other activities into step totals. So if you'd rather bike, golf, garden, or even vacuum, the chart will tell you the equivalent amount of steps you've logged by doing those activities.

Walk with your neighbors and co-workers

Twenty-three communities in Hennepin County are encouraging their residents to join their city's team. Membership is also open to people who work in these communities. As an added incentive to join a group, members of each city's team will be eligible to win tickets to a Minnesota Twins game!

Now get walking!

The Step To It Challenge is being coordinated by Hennepin County Public Health with additional support from the Minnesota Twins Community Fund. Health Fair 11, a partnership of KARE 11 TV, UCare, and North Memorial Medical Center, encourages everyone to get walking.