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Start a Walking Exercise Program

Health Benefits of Walking

Introduction to WalkingIn today’s society we get news at lightning speed. Health reports seem to change constantly, and with so many new pieces of advice and warnings, we are often left wondering exactly what is what. Despite the frequent updates on health risks, statistics and doctor recommendations, one thing has remained constant:

Walking for at least 30 minutes a day helps people stay healthy.

Walking has been proven to reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes, Breast Cancer and Colon Cancer. Daily walks help maintain bone density and joint health and can even help you stay “regular”.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start a walking program. To get started, simply put one foot in front of the other. It is best to make sure you are wearing supportive shoes, and it can be more fun if you walk with a companion. Of course, check with your doctor before you start this or any fitness program, especially if you have been inactive for a long time.

The Choose To Move Fitness Program

A great way to start a walking program is to take advantage of a free resource from the American Heart Association, called Choose to Move. This 12-week program tailored for women provides motivation and inspiration to help you get active and stay active.

Some of the benefits of the program include:

  • Downloadable countdown clock to help you set and reach goals
  • Support from an online community, including blogs written by program participants
  • A workout buddy locator
  • A healthy recipe each month

You can log your daily activity, set goals for yourself and seek advice from the community to help you stay on track. In addition, the Choose to Move web site is full of information to help you determine your risk of stroke and heart disease as well as tips on how to reduce your risk.

Walking & Exercise Routine Tips

Aside from joining Choose to Move, how do you actually start a walking program?


Formulate your walking strategy

Where are you going to walk? Do a quick survey of your community and see where you think you would be most comfortable walking. Parks are a great place to walk. You get out of the house and can interact with your community. When the weather turns rainy, head to the local shopping mall. You can keep up your routine and maybe get some errands done as well!

If you don’t live near a park or a mall, you still have lots of options. You can walk in your neighborhood and take extra laps around the cul-de-sacs. Some schools with tracks allow the community to use them in the off season. Combine walking with your trip to the grocery store by walking up and down every aisle and making a few laps around the perimeter. And of course you can always walk around your house and yard, or even walk in place. Every step counts.


Find a supportive walking shoe

Make sure you have a sneaker that fits comfortably and provides good support for your feet and ankles. If you have flat arches, it is especially important to find a shoe that keeps the foot from overpronating or rolling inward. A shoe that fits well and provides excellent cushioning and stability will keep you walking without getting sore feet or aggravating an existing foot condition, like plantar fasciitis.

Even though your shoes may look like they are in great condition from the outside, they will get quite a workout on the inside. Make sure you replace them every 3 to 6 months depending on the frequency and duration of your walks.


Stick to it!

Start out slowly and build up your endurance. You can start out with walks as short as 1015 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Shoot for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and you will start to reduce your health risks. Ideally, we should all walk for 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week. However, every little bit counts. Even regular, short walks will reduce your stress and help you sleep better.

Once you are comfortable walking 30 minutes a day, put a little pep in your step! Research shows that if you can’t work out regularly, increasing the intensity when you do workout can give you the same benefits.

So what are you waiting for? Download your Choose to Move countdown clock, lace up your sneakers and go take a walk!

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