Walking is my favourite mode of transportation. Walking is simple and minimalist: you travel on your own steam, you don’t have to mess around with public transit schedules, worry about getting stuck in traffic, parking or even locking up a bike. Walking is a great way to create solitude, to clear your head, to get some exercise. Not to mention that you think twice about buying things when you have to carry them home yourself!

If you are looking to embrace the joy of walking here are 8 tips to fit more walking into your life. Not all of them will apply, so just try whatever will work for you.

1. Google Maps is your friend. Try mapping out walking routes to places that you normally drive or take transit to. You may be surprised to discover that walking doesn’t take much more time – especially during rush hour!

2. Learn your walking pace. The next time you plan to walk somewhere, find out how far away it is (using Google Maps) and time yourself to see how long it takes you to get there. Time to destination divided by distance equals your pace (in mile or kilometers per hour). Once you know your pace you can more easily estimate how long it will take you to get to certain places, which will make it easier to spontaneously incorporate walking into your life.

3. Stop being such a wuss. If you have ever complained about wanting to lose weight or wanting to save money then please consider taking all the energy it takes to complain and diverting it to walking. Walking is free and it is great low impact exercise. In Toronto it really doesn’t get that cold (having grown up in Calgary, -10 or -15 degrees Celsius is NOT that cold). Embrace winter, throw on a scarf and a toque, and go for a fricking walk.

4. Consider just walking one way. Sometimes I am in a rush to get somewhere after work so I take the subway, but on my way home I can walk. Don’t always think you have to take transit home just because you took it to get somewhere.

5. Redefine what you consider to be a walkable distance. This takes time. For me, any place that I can reach walking in an hour or less is “walkable.” I have worked up to being able to walk that distance and it has given me great stamina. When I go on vacation I can traipse from one tourist attraction to another, no problem!

6. Bring comfortable shoes. Ladies – let’s put our purses to good use! Slip a pair of comfortable flats or walking shoes into your purse. (This is also great to do when you go out for an evening of dancing!) Guys you are probably already wearing comfortable shoes, you lucky bastards.

7. Pack a hat and gloves. Again, if you are carrying a purse (or have a jacket with lots of pockets) try keeping a lightweight toque (or beanie as the Americans would say) and gloves on you all the time. That way you’ll always be ready to face the elements for some spontaneous walking.

8. Blister-proof socks. Enough said.

9. Keep a band-aid or two in your wallet. This has saved me from many blisters! If I feel a blister starting I will pull a band-aid out of my wallet (or purse) and slap it on before the blister inhibits my walking.

10. Use walking as an alternative to public transit transfers. When I leave the office to go to karate I take the subway 6 stops north and then have to make a very stressful transfer to another line just to go 2 stops west. Instead of elbowing my way onto a jam-packed westbound train I just walk the last 6 blocks. So much simpler! (And of course I walk home since I have more time going that direction!) If your daily commute involves transfers, try replacing them with walking. Even if it takes a little longer you will be much less stressed and you’ll get in a little exercise.

So strap on some comfortable shoes and happy walking!

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