Bad habits and certain health conditions, such as arthritis, can affect the way people walk, making walking less efficient or even injurious, according to recent information from theHarvard Health Letter.

The ideal walking posture, according to the report, is with head erect, back straight, arms bent, knees extending and flexing, and feet striking the ground with the heel and pushing off with the toes. Unfortunately, few adults achieve or maintain the ideal gait. But the February issue of theHarvard Health Letterreports that even patterns established over a lifetime can be reversed, and it offers the following tips to help correct bad walking habits:

Look ahead.Train your sights 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. If you need to check the ground to avoid obstacles, lower your eyes, not your head.

Stretch your spine.Your shoulders should be level and square. Tuck your buttocks in.

Bend your arms.Flex your elbows at close to 90-degree angles and let your arms swing at waist level.

For more information on theHarvard Health Letter, call toll-free (877) 649-9457.