"Just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life," says Timothy Gardner, MD, past president of the American Heart Association.
- It's Simple! Exercise doesn't have to be hard to be effective.
- It's Cheap! Walking requires no equipment aside form a good, supportive pair of walking shoes.
- It's Good for You! Regular walking helps lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, increases bone strength, and improves circulation.
- Walk with a buddy whenever possible.
- Carry your name, address, and a friend or relative's phone number in your shoe or tied to a lace.
- Wear a medical bracelet if you have diabetes, an allergy, or other condition.
- Carry a cell phone and let a friend or relative know your walking routes.
- Avoid deserted or unlit streets, especially after dark.
- Do not use headsets that prevent you from hearing traffic; and walk against oncoming traffic.
- Wear reflective material and/or carry a flashlight so others can see you.
- Wear a pedometer. "Wear a pedometer for a week to see what days you have the most number of steps," says Julia Valentour, MS, exercise physiologist and program coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. "Then try to repeat the activites of that day and add another 500 steps the following week" Keep it up until you reach 10,000 steps a day.
- Keep a walking journal. It serves as a motivator by allowing you to see your progress.
- Get a walking partner. A walking buddy proves accountability. Neither wants to let the other person down.
- Sign up for a race or charity walk. It gives you a goal to shoot for, which may motivate you to stick with a program.