JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Can’t motivate yourself to get to the gym?  Or having a hard time sticking to that running schedule?  Recent research suggests just plain walking can have a profound impact on your health.

Regular exercise has been shown to lower your risk of early death, stroke, some cancers, and can help control weight and blood pressure. Walking is the cheapest and easiest way to get regular exercise.

“Walking, even walking, is a beautiful form of exercise,” said Mary O’Connor, MD, Physician and Chair of Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

A study from George Washington University showed a simple 15 minute walk half an hour after every meal can help clear out blood sugar, and protect against type-2 diabetes.

But what about speed? A brisk walk is generally the best: walk fast enough so you can talk, but not sing.

If you’re going to start a walking schedule, buying a pedometer can help.  Track the number of steps you take over a few days, and use it as your baseline.  Slowly increase the amount of walking time, but don’t try too much too soon.

More advice from the Mayo Clinic: