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Americans Are Walking More to Improve Their Health

Mother walking and shopping with young daughter and sonImprove your health by increasing your physical activity. Start with walking more as part of your daily routine.

Most everyone knows that physical activity is important for good health, but not enough actually do it. Obstacles abound, not the least of which is limited time. Fitting regular physical activity into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first, but the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are more flexible than ever, giving you the freedom to reach your physical activity goals through different kinds of activities. It's easier than you think!

Adults need two types of physical activity each week—muscle strengthening and aerobic. Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. Brisk walking is the most popular aerobic physical activity among adults in America.

Walking briskly for 2 hours and 30 minutes each week— easily broken up into 5, 30-minute walks—helps you meet the Physical Activity Guidelines and gain health benefits. Add in 2 days that include muscle strengthening activities—things like sit-ups, push-ups or weight lifting—and you are one of the growing number of adults getting healthier by increasing their physical activity. Congratulations!

Join the crowd.

More and more Americans are choosing walking as their regular form of physical activity each day. More than 145 million adults now include walking as part of a physically active lifestyle. So if you’re not as active as you would like, why not consider walking more each day?

Walking is free, requires no special skills or facilities, and can be done indoors and outdoors—alone or with others.

Every step counts.

Increasing physical activity is an important step towards a healthier life. People who are physically active can live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Even if you are inactive, you can benefit from becoming active. Doing some physical activity is better than none.

Commit to walking more each day than you did the day before.

Here are a few tips for adding more walking into your day.

  • Park the car at the shopping center and walk to all your nearby errands.
  • Find a walking buddy. Meet at the same time most days to go for a brisk walk.
  • Host a Walking Meeting—walk and talk over problems with your colleagues for the first 20 minutes then hit the conference room to write down ideas and finish up.
  • Make a Walk-and-Talk date with a friend or family member. Skip the latte and do a loop around the neighborhood instead.
  • Take a walking lunch break at work. Keep extra shoes and socks in your filing cabinet.
  • Walk while you are waiting. Instead of sitting on the bleachers while your child’s at practice, walk around the field. Walk outside the restaurant as you wait for your table to be ready.
  • Find a convenient walking path near your home, kids’ activities, or work.

Why choose walking?

Increased walking has the potential to enliven communities by getting more people out on the streets. It allows you to meet and interact with people, making communities stronger.

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