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#GetWalkingLowcountry: Wednesday is National Walking Day

Wednesday is National Walking Day. The American Heart Association - Lowcountry chapter is encouraging people to participate on social media with the hashtag #GetWalkingLowcountry (MGN)

Lace up your sneakers Wednesday. It's the American Heart Association's National Walking Day.

The annual event promotes exercise and heart health. Hundreds of people in the Lowcountry are expected to participate.

“Walking really has a lot of benefits,” said Jennifer Waites, marketing director for the American Heart Association in South Carolina. “It reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke, it controls your cholesterol and blood pressure, and it’s good for your mental well-being.”

Heart disease and stroke are major health risk factors for both men and women, but the American Heart Associaton says every hour of brisk walking can increase life expectancy by as much as two hours.

With that in mind, the American Heart Association encourages everyone to walk at least 30 minutes a day. However, Dr. Jean Ruddy with MUSC says it’s best for people to take baby steps at first.

“Really, even the metric of 30 minutes a day is just sort of a goal,” Ruddy said Monday. “We encourage everyone to start with what works for them.

Instead of two days a week, Ruddy says people just starting out should aim for two days a week. Ruddy also says it’s important not to over-exert yourself early on.

“I think when patients start, they should avoid walking fast enough that they feel like their heart is racing,” Ruddy said. “Take it slow, then once you get in the groove walking over the course of a couple weeks, then really start to push yourself.”

Waites is encouraging the Lowcountry to show off their sneakers and take others on a walk with them by sharing their stroll on social media, using the hashtag #GetWalkingLowcountry, and by tagging the American Heart Association – Lowcountry chapter on Facebook.

“Anyone and everyone can take part, and we’re just encouraging people to get out, get fit, and rock their tennis shoes,” said Waites. “Even if you’re going to work, put those babies on!”

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