This month is your chance to start a more active lifestyle. Here’s how.

Keeping your heart healthy takes more than just a balanced diet and a few super foods. Exercise is just as important, and the American Heart Association is urging Americans to get out and get active in the month of April.

AHA’s Move More Month encourages more Americans to get out and walk their way to better health.

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According to the association’s website, walking is one of the exercises with the lowest dropout rate for people looking to lead a more active lifestyle. It also has a number of benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, improving blood pressure and enhancing your mental well-being.

Here are some helpful tips to get your outside and in the walking mood:

1. Find a walking buddy

The AHA suggests asking a friend to walk with you will help prevent you from flaking out. Walk paths which are convenient for the both of you or head to places neither of you have been to try and discover something new together.

2. Get good shoes that fit

You don’t have to buy the latest and greatest shoes to exercise, but it is important to get a good fit. Make sure they provide adequate support in the key impact areas — the ball and the heel — and you don’t experience heel slippage in them so you avoid blisters. The AHA also suggests wearing the same socks you intend to exercise in — ideally made of acrylics or polyester — so you get the best fit.

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3. Make sure to stretch

Walking is considered by most to be light exercise, but it still has the potential for injury. The AHA suggests warming up for at least five minutes with several stretches including shoulder rolls and wall pushes to decrease the risk of muscle strains and fatigue.

4. Any time can be walking time

Whether you want to walk morning, noon or night, the AHA says any of them can be prime time to get outside. Tips they offer for specific time periods include:

  • Setting out clothes and shoes the night prior for morning walkers.
  • Setting an appointment on your Outlook account or phone to remind you to walk at lunchtime.
  • Have a light snack at 4 p.m. to prevent crashing and pick a quiet area away from rush hour traffic to avoid air pollution.

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