You cannot have good health or fitness without good feet.  Seriously. But a lot of people take their foot health for granted and don't appreciate their feet until they get all jacked up — and by that time, they're pretty much irreparable.

Just think about it: Whenever you're standing, walking or running, your feet take on the load.  Yes, walking is natural, but it is extraordinarily complex, and it exerts tremendous pressure on your feet, hips, and spine.  Did you know that walking exerts about three times your body weight and running exerts four to eight times your body weight on your feet and joints?  For a 200-pound person, that translates to 600 pounds of pressure while walking, and up to 1,600 pounds of pressure when running.

Your feet are the foundation for good health, which means that keeping feet happy can help keep all of you happy and healthy.

Foot anatomy 101

The complexity of the foot is no joke. The human foot has 26 bones that support and balance all of your body weight, all day. In fact, when you stand, you are actually starting on your arches.  Which brings me to my next question.  Did you know the foot actually has three arches?  That's right, there's an arch on the inside, outside, and across the ball of your foot.

Fit feet vs. cute feet

Why do we do so many crazy things with and to our feet?  We squeeze our feet into ridiculous high-heeled shoes, we decorate our toes with fashion colors, and some even go under the knife to beautify their feet.

In 2017, American women spent about $8.53 billion on nail salon services, according to Statista market research. And the average cost of just a pedicure is $35.

Undoubtedly, we spend a lot of money on our feet, but can we honestly say we care for our feet the way that we should? Yes, you can have a pedicure, but how long can you put off what really matters: the health of your feet?

Exercises for stronger and fitter feet

Don't neglect doing specific exercises for your feet. Regularly doing foot exercises may improve your foot range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Here are a few to get you started.

Marble pickup. To do this exercise, you will need to raid the kids' toy chest for old-fashioned marbles.  Place the marbles on the floor.  Second, you'll need a basin with warm water.  Now, sit down and, one by one, pick up the marbles with your toes and place them in the basin.

Releves. Anyone who has taken ballet knows what it means to releve: Stand on your tippy toes and slower lower your heels back to the floor and repeat. Remember to keep your weight evenly distributed and contract your abs. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions.

Strap band for stretching. A yoga stretching exercise strap is an excellent tool for stretching and strengthening the feet. Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. Wrap the yoga strap around one of your feet and use your hands to grip the ends of the strap.  Hold the strap securely, as you alternate between flexing and pointing your toes.

Having healthy feet is the first step to feeling good and staying active.