10 Ways to Invest in Walking

Do You Have a Refund or Bonus? Invest It in Yourself with Walking Gear

If you want a real return on your money, invest it in good walking gear to reap dividends in burning calories and reducing health risks. You'll be able to walk easier and farther with the right shoes, walking clothing, gear and training. You'll reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke. Invest in yourself, invest in your walking lifestyle.


Walking Shoe
Walking Shoe. Maskot/Getty Images
Your first walking dollar should go into getting the right walking shoes. The right shoes can make all of the difference for walking comfort and preventing injury such as plantar fasciitis. You should also have a variety of shoes to meet different climates and surfaces. On asphalt or running tracks, performance walking shoes work well. On trails or gravel, you will want trail running shoes or boots. Your walking shoes should be flexible, flat, and not have a flared heel. Your best bet is to find the best technical running shoe store in your area and get fitted by an expert. Once they determine which kind of shoe is best for you, you can shop for the best price.



Fitbit Flex Activity Data on App
Fitbit Flex Activity Data on App. Bruce Gifford/Moment Mobile/Getty Images

Upgrade your fitness tracker. If you've only used a freebie or dumb pedometer, it's time for a smart pedometer or fitness band. If you don't want one that links to an app or computer, consider these old-school waistband pedometers that are smart enough to remember your stats for 7 days. If you want to see your stats in depth on your smart phone or computer, choose a popular Fitbit model or the excellent Garmin vivofit or vivosmart fitness bands. If you want to ramp up your training, go for the Fitbit Surge super fitness watch or the Polar M400 GPS Sports Watch. Several studies have shown pedometers to be excellent motivators -- they nag you to walk at a tiny fraction of the cost of a personal trainer!


A Phone that Does it All

Fitbit Charge HR Workout Tracking
Fitbit Charge HR Workout Tracking. Fitbit

If you've been putting off a phone upgrade, it's time to get the latest model. The motion sensor chips are greatly improved and now pedometer apps are as accurate as fitness bands. The cameras are fantastic. Siri and her cousins answer your every question. Apps can help you do everything, including tracking your walks and workouts with nary a need for other gizmo.


Porta do Camino - Into the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela
Porta do Camino - Into the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela. Wendy Bumgardner ©
When I look back at ways I have spent my money, I never regret the great walking vacations I've taken in the United States, Canada and Europe. My retirement account can lose money, but the stock market can't take away my memories. And when memories fade, I've got all those photos! My grandma said, "No matter how little money you have, take your vacation!" Invest your time and money with great trips with your loved ones to make memories.



Bowflex TreadClimber TC200
Bowflex TreadClimber TC200. Courtesy of Amazon.com
If you have a significant amount of money to invest in walking, a home treadmill can be one of the best ways to eliminate walking excuses. A top-quality treadmill can cost $3,000 or more new. The good news is that you can often find lightly-used treadmills at extreme bargains. Like quality used cars, the first owner paid the depreciation. Many of those first owners gave up on the treadmill as fast as their resolutions evaporated.



Portland Marathon Finish Line
Portland Marathon Finish Line. Wendy Bumgardner ©
Training for a walking marathon is a great investment in your fitness and health. To be fully prepared, you will spend six to nine months putting in the walking and exercise time. You can do this yourself, using our free information and free email course. But you may want to get the live coaching and camaraderie of a marathon training group in your area. Often there will be a fee for these programs. Or, you can join a charity marathon training group and commit to raising funds as well as paying a fee. Overall, your biggest investment will be your time. The payoff is that medal that says you are an extreme endurance athlete. And that's worth a pile of gold in self-esteem.



Walking in Layered Clothing
Walking in Layered Clothing. Hero Images/Getty Images
You could just step out the door wearing anything that won't get you arrested, but to walk comfortably you should learn to layer. By layering, you are assured of having enough clothing but not too much. Choose fabrics that are breathable and wicking to allow your body to shed excess heat and sweat while feeling dry. The base layer is a sweat-wicking shirt. Over that you can add an insulating layer of microfleece or wool for colder weather. On top you need a windproof and water resistant jacket. You should start your walk feeling cool but not cold. As you warm up, remove the insulating layer. Still too warm? Remove the outer layer. You stopped for water and the restroom and now feel cool? Put on the outer layer again.



Ultimax Socks
Wendy Bumgardner ©

Don't stop with the right shoes. Your everyday cotton socks are not good for fitness walking or distance walking. Cotton sets you up for blisters by holding sweat next to the skin. Tube socks don't fit your feet right and therefore can rub you raw. Head to the sock section of a sporting goods, outdoor, or running store. Look for socks made from CoolMax, polypropylene, or other wicking fabrics. They wick away the sweat to evaporate and help prevent blisters. Good socks will cost more than generic socks, but this is an investment in both comfort and blister prevention that is worth the price.



Ready for Winter Walking
Ready for Winter Walking. Katja Kircher/Maskot/Getty Images
I see too many walkers carrying a water bottle in their hand. This is a set-up for wrist, shoulder and neck strain. Invest in an ergonomic designed water-carrying waistpack or backpack. A good pack distributes the weight load evenly across your body at the center of mass -- your hips. Waistpacks or backpacks with belly straps are the best options for carrying more than a pound. Avoid purses or other options that put the load on just one shoulder, or you risk throwing off your body alignment and eventually developing problems and pain.



Apple Watch Stopwatch and Laps
Apple Watch Stopwatch and Laps. Wendy Bumgardner ©

The most difficult investment to make in your fitness and health isn't directly tied to money. It's carving out the 30 to 60 minutes a day recommended to maintain health and keep off excess weight. Making that investment can mean giving up other activities, or finding ways to sneak in your exercise time and extra steps throughout the day. When making your investment strategies, finding this time will be your best investment to a healthy and happy life.