Health Team

Walking Can Help Your Heart and Good Causes

Regular walks are not only a fun habit, but good for your heart. Plenty of local walks let you lace up your shoes for a good cause.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Downtown workers threw off their heels and dress shoes and donned sneakers Friday to take a 2-mile midday stroll in Raleigh.

The City of Raleigh's annual Fun Walk challenges city employees and others to make walking a regular routine. It's a habit that's not only fun but also good for the heart, WRAL's Dr. Allen Mask told walkers.

"There are lots of things we do in our lives, but there is really nothing more important than looking after our personal health," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Walking for about an hour a day, five days a week promotes cardiovascular health, strengthens bones and burns calories

If a 5-mile daily goal seems overly ambitious, think of it in these terms: 5 miles is only 10,000 steps.

"My major motivation is to get energy. I've got a very busy day and two small kids, and I just need the energy," Chris Hall, a city employee said.

A pedometer can help you reach that goal, as it adds up incidental walking around your home, work or shopping. Include a nice 2-mile walk, and you'll have achieved your health goals.

Having a walking partner may make the miles seem to pass more quickly.

"It's the buddy system," city employee Rene Ray said. "First of all, you can look out for each other's back, and we kind of motivate each other to continue walking. Our goal is to start running."

The Triangle has plenty of upcoming opportunities for walkers to lace up their shoes for a good cause.

The annual Step Out to Fight Diabetes walk is set for Saturday, Oct. 6 in the Research Triangle Park. It starts on Alexander Drive, just off Interstate 40. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
The annual Memory Walk for Alzheimer's will take place Saturday, Oct. 6 at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary's Regency Park. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
The American Heart Association's 2007 Triangle Heart Walk will be held Sunday, Oct. 21 in the Research Triangle Park.

Mask gave the following advice for walkers:

  • Don't walk too fast or two slow. At the appropriate pace, you should be able to talk occasionally without losing your breath.
  • If you walk alone, bring a cell phone in case of an emergency, and make sure to tell someone where you're going.
  • Carry a flashlight if you walk at dusk or in the dark.
  • Wear light, reflective clothing.
  • Bringing along a whistle might be a good idea.
  • Look for places to walk away from traffic.
  • Carry a water bottle to avoid dehydration.