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By clicking below I acknowledge that I am enrolling in, a program created by the American Heart Association, Inc. ("AHA Program").

I am engaging in the AHA Program voluntarily and for my own personal reasons. I understand that it is my responsibility to consult with a physician regarding heart disease.

The AHA programs I am enrolling in may advocate or involve physical activity such as exercise. Such physical activity is a potentially hazardous activity that may involve certain risks. By participating in AHA programs, I assume all associated risks. It is my responsibility to consult with a physician to determine my ability to engage in any and all activities associated with the AHA Programs. It is also my responsibility to use equipment, clothing, and technique that are appropriate for the activities related to the AHA Programs. I am solely responsible for my own safety.

I agree to not sue, and to release, indemnify and hold harmless, the AHA, its affiliates, officers, directors, volunteers and employees, and all sponsors of the AHA programs sponsors and the agents of such sponsors, from any and all liability, claims, demands, and causes of action whatsoever, arising out of my participation in the AHA programs, whether arising from the negligence of any of the above parties or from any other cause. The foregoing release, indemnification, and hold harmless shall be as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the state in which I live.

I consent to the aggregation of my non-identifying information with like information from other people, and I consent to the release of such aggregated information to other parties, including but not limited to the sponsors of AHA. I authorize the AHA to mail me information about the AHA Programs or about other AHA offerings.

I acknowledge and agree that the AHA may discontinue certain AHA programs without notice to me and that I shall have no continuing rights in the AHA programs upon such termination.

I assert that I am the person about whom the information I am providing relates.

If any portion of this agreement is held invalid, the balance shall continue in full force and effect.

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Walking 101

The popularity of walking as a fitness activity has grown by leaps and bounds. Low-risk and easy to start, walking has proven its health benefits in numerous studies. An eight-year study of 13,000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised. In addition, research has shown that regular walking can decrease total and intra-abdominal fat and reduce your risk of developing diabetes or breast cancer.

A regular walking program can also:

Experts at the CDC and National Institute of Health recommend that every American adult engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity just about every day of the week. One way to meet this standard is to walk 2 miles briskly (about 4 miles/hr). If this is too fast, choose a more comfortable pace.

Get Ready

A walking program is simple to start. All you need are comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. Layer loose clothing, keeping in mind that brisk exercise elevates the bodyís temperature. Shoes specifically designed for walking or running are best. Make sure you have a little wiggle room between your longest toe (1/2") and the end of the shoe. Avoid cotton socks since they retain moisture and can promote blisters.

Technique

Intensity

To warm up, walk at an easy tempo for the first several minutes. Then gradually adopt a more purposeful pace. A good way to add variety into your walk is to incorporate some brisk intervals into your walk. For example, walk one block fast, two blocks slow and repeat several times. Gradually add more fast intervals with shorter recovery periods. Concentrate on increasing your speed while maintaining good posture.

Walking hills is a great way to tone the legs. The use of Nordic walking poles can boost the calorie-burning value of your walk while promoting good posture and overall muscle endurance. Treadmill walking, while not as scenic, can be a convenient option during inclement weather.

The end of your walk is an ideal time to stretch since your body is warmed up. Stretch your hamstrings and calves (important walking muscles) as well as your chest, shoulders and back. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Track your progress. Although experts recommend that you walk a minimum of 30 minutes a day, there are no hard and fast rules. If walking is part of your weight loss plan, more is better. Walking 60 minutes/day and brisk intervals will help you burn more calories. Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean three 10-minute walks over the course of a day. The best schedule is one that keeps you walking and keeps you fit!

Safety

Avoid traffic accidents. Listening to lively music while you walk is a great way to energize your workout. But if you wear headphones, keep the volume down and watch out for traffic that you may not hear. Wearing light colors or reflective clothing is best as well as carrying a flashlight or glow stick if you walk when visibility is low. Walking on sidewalks is best, but if you have to walk on the street, stick to streets with lower speed limits. Faster streets are riskier because motorists are less likely to see pedestrians and cannot stop as quickly. Accidents involving pedestrians have an 85% chance of becoming fatal if the car is moving at 40 mph as compared to only 5% if the speed is 20 mph.

Know your area. Pay attention to what businesses are open in the area youíll be walking and know the location of emergency telephones. Walk on well-traveled streets rather than taking shortcuts in less crowded areas such as alleys or parking lots. If you give the message that you are calm, self-assured and have a purposeful gait, youíll lower the chances of becoming a victim.

Two heads are better than one. Walking with a partner or in groups discourages crime and may help alert you to dangers such as speeding motorists or unleashed dogs.

If you experience foot, knee, hip or back pain when walking, STOP and check with your doctor to find out the cause. You may need special exercises or better shoes. If you have osteoarthritis and experience increased joint pain lasting an hour or two after walking, consider an alternate activity like stationery cycling or water exercise. Donít stop exercising altogether!