The Bays also sometimes walk in other areas, such as a friend’s neighborhood after a visit, or they walk off dinner around a restaurant if the neighborhood feels safe enough.

Even the same route can be interesting with a little attention and creativity. Count the cats or squirrels in your neighbors’ yards. Be aware of the clouds in the sky, the movement of the trees in the breeze, the feeling of the sun on your skin. “If you pay attention to your surroundings, your walk will go faster,” says Whaley.

•    Go the scenic route. Once a week, take a walk in a park, along a lake, at the beach or in the woods.

•    Head for the track. If you usually walk in your neighborhood, go to a school and do laps around the track.

•    Pretend you’re a tourist, and take a self-guided walking tour of your town.

•    Walk wherever you are. Do laps around the playing field during your kids’ baseball games, around the block while waiting for a table at a restaurant or around the mall while waiting for your spouse to finish shopping.

3. Get good shoes.

A pair of shoes is virtually the only equipment you need for walking, so it’s important to choose the right pair, says Nicholas Abidi, MD, an orthopedic surgeon from Santa Cruz, California. In general, the best shoes – whether dress, casual or athletic – have deep and wide lasts (shoe forms) and are made of cloth or smooth leather, without tight seams that rub the skin.

For walking, he recommends a good-quality running shoe, such as New Balance, Asics GEL or Adidas; or New Balance walking shoes, which come in different widths. (You can walk in running shoes, but you shouldn’t run in walking shoes.) Beyond that, the right pair will vary somewhat, depending upon your specific problem:

Trouble keeping your balance: Try shoes without thick treads, which can stick and cause falls.

Bunions: Look for roomy shoes without seams that cut across bunions. Women who have trouble finding wide enough shoes may want to try men’s athletic shoes.

Weak ankles: Try high-top athletic shoes.

Ankle arthritis or fusion: Look for shoes with rocker bottoms and a little heel lift to take up loss of motion in the ankle.

If you have knee osteoarthritis (OA), a new study suggests shoes that allow more natural foot motion and flexibility may be best. They reduce knee loading – the load or stress placed on the knee when walking – which plays an important role in the progression of knee OA. “Results from this study indicate that flat, flexible shoes provide the greatest degree of benefit in terms of knee loading,” says Najia Shakoor, MD, a rheumatologist at Rush Medical College in Chicago and an investigator in the study. However, she also notes that you have to take into account what your feet may need.

If you need help finding the right shoe, Dr. Abidi recommends visiting a pedorthist – a specialist in using shoes and shoe modifications to solve problems related to the foot and lower limbs. If you find a shoe that works, buy an extra pair, and alternate between them daily.