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Video: Participants Find New Routes, Routines on National Start! Walking Day

DALLAS, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- From Los Angeles to New York, thousands will set off on a new path to fitness tomorrow.

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It's part of the American Heart Association's National Start! Walking Day, when people from all walks of life will trek 30 minutes on paths that cities across the country deem "walker friendly."

The American Heart Association has also collaborated with the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's leading fitness authority, to develop walking plans for people at various ability levels who want a physical activity routine. The free, downloadable plans and a list of walking paths in various cities are available at

Start! is an American Heart Association program that promotes walking as an activity because it's accessible, free and has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise.

"Start! is excellent because of its simple message - walk to improve your health," said Joy Bauer, national spokesperson for Start! and one of the nation's leading fitness and nutrition authorities. "Start! is a realistic way to stay physically active and dramatically lower health risks. I am thrilled to be a part of this movement and encourage everyone to get out there and walk."

A person is 1.5 to 2.4 times more likely to have coronary heart disease if he or she is inactive. But walking vigorously for 30 minutes a day, or at least 2 1/2 hours a week, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and reduces chances of breast and colon cancer, the association said. Adults also may gain as many as two hours of life expectancy for each hour of regular, vigorous exercise, such as brisk walking.

Furthermore, studies reveal that American jobs have become more sedentary and that employees are working 164 more hours per year than they were 20 years ago.

"With over 66 percent of Americans considered overweight and obese and nearly 70 percent of the population not engaging in regular light to moderate physical activity five times a week or vigorous activity three or more times per week, we realized there was a dire need to incorporate more walking into people's daily routines," said Timothy Gardner, M.D., American Heart Association president. "Just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life."

There are four key elements of the Start! program:

  • MyStart! Online, a free, Web-based fitness and nutrition tracker, is the hub for a walking program that offers constant, measurable personal improvement. The technology allows members of the community to check up on one another and provide support when they need a push or congratulations when they've reached a goal. It also allows members to record distance, map routes, locate nearby walking paths and keep an ongoing log of walks.
  • The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees and work to create a culture of physical activity in the workplace. The program has several key aspects to help companies foster a culture of physical activity and wellness. Nearly 1,000 companies were designated Fit-Friendly in the first two years of the program.
  • The Start! Walking Program has three free, downloadable walking plans for people with varying goals and fitness levels created with experts from the American Council on Exercise . Start! walking videos, produced in collaboration with ExerciseTV - a video-on-demand network - are also available for free to digital cable subscribers on ExerciseTV on demand and online to watch or download at
  • Start! Heart Walk, the American Heart Association's premier fund raiser, enables people to improve their health by walking while helping fund the fight against heart disease and stroke. More than 425 Start! Heart Walks are held each year in cities nationwide.

Start! is sponsored nationally by SUBWAY(R) Restaurants, Healthy Choice(R) and AstraZeneca. For more information, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, we're the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases - America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers - we fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

SOURCE American Heart Association
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