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Excuses, Excuses...
Why We Can't, Didn't, Shouldn't—But Promise to Start Tomorrow

By Rebecca Johnson

Read on for the walking version of "My dog ate it" as we shoot down your most common excuses for not walking, with help from Mark Fenton, author of Walking Magazine's Complete Guide to Walking for Health and Fitness.

1. I haven't walked or exercised regularly since junior high school!
Well, it's about time you did, isn't it? You're one of millions—the one-third of all Americans who are putting their lives in serious danger because they live sedentary lifestyles. "Overweight and physical inactivity account for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S., second only to tobacco-related deaths," warns Jeffrey P. Kaplan, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news? Like quitting smoking, it's relatively easy to overcome these risks. A recent study by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas found that even small lifestyle changes- such as walking around a soccer field during a child's game, or walking around the airport during a layover- significantly improve cardiorespiratory fitness and blood pressure. "The beauty is that these changes are simple to do and they add up to an important health difference," noted Andrea Dunn, project director of the study.

Chances are the shape you were in back in junior high or high school when you were more active- is a lot better than the shape you're in now. Even if you hated gym class, there are plenty of other physical activities you can take up that are fun and also beneficial. Walking is one of the easiest to do because it allows you to accomplish several things at once. Incorporate walking in your daily schedule to get to work, walk your kids to school, to do errands, or to visit a friend.

2. I get bored by walking.
So make it interesting! There are plenty of ways to inject fun into walking and keep yourself motivated.

Walking doesn't have to be a solitary event (although some people do prefer the peace and quiet of a solo walk.) You can turn walking into a social happening by making walking dates with friends, or even by combining walking with another fun occasion: walking to the movies or a concert or sports event, for example.

You might also want to join a local walking club or team full of other companion walkers to help keep you motivated to walk. Check with your city's parks and recreation department, hospital, or even the sporting goods store where you purchased your walking shoes. Or click here to search for a club in your area.

Vary your routine. Walk at different times of day. Walk with different friends and neighbors. Walk your dog, or a friend's dog. Explore new walking routes. If you always walk on a trail, try heading downtown or pick out an interesting neighborhood to see new sights as you stroll by. Take headphones and listen to music or a book-on-tape.

Plan a special long walk- a hike or visit to the beach. If you're really ambitious, you might want to plan and train for an extended walking journey: a walking tour of a foreign country or city, a religious pilgrimage, hiking the Appalachian Trail or a national park.

Train for a specific walking event.

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