If you need a nudge to lace up your walking shoes and hit the streets, we've got the answer. The American Heart Association's Start! Walking Program gives you all the tools you need to get going. StartWalkingNow.org offers expert advice, support groups and even a source for finding a walking partner in your area. A bit of advice to help you get the most out of your mileage:
- Forget the guidelines. True beginners benefit big from even 10 to 15 minutes of walking three to four days a week, says exercise physiologist Dr. Barry Franklin, an American Heart Association volunteer. "Don't worry about doing 30 or 60 minutes," he says. "Just get rolling, make it enjoyable and you'll want to keep going."
- Bump up the incline. On the treadmill, seasoned walkers can increase the incline to burn more calories, Franklin says. "Walking at an incline allows you to compact a lot of exercise into a short amount of time."
- Put more muscle into your stride. Really push into the ground with your back leg, squeezing your glutes to tone and tighten, suggests Rob Parr, author of Star Quality: The Red Carpet Workout for the Celebrity Body of Your Dreams