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  • Understanding Your Cholesterol Report
  • Avoid a Cholesterol Drug Interaction
  • Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

Nutrition & Exercise

  • A Guide to Heart-Healthy Grains
  • 12 Weeks to a Healthier You
  • Factor in Fitness to Fight High Cholesterol
  • How to Find Your Target Heart Rate During Exercise

Staying Healthy

  • The Deadly Combo: High Blood Pressure & High Cholesterol
  • Beyond Your Heart: The Other Risks of High Cholesterol

For Women Only

  • High Cholesterol: The Gender Gap
  • Cholesterol and Your Sex Life

12 Weeks to a Healthier You

Walk your way to good health

By: Laura Flynn McCarthy

Reviewed By: Kerry Prewitt, M.D., FACC

12weeks healthier youStart a walking program

Walking is the universal exercise. It requires virtually no equipment (other than a good pair of sneakers), can be done almost anywhere and demands little athletic skill. Best of all, it really helps increase HDL levels and lower total cholesterol, while also offering other health benefits ranging from reducing your blood pressure, helping you sleep better, sharpening your mind and helping you lose weight. (Losing weight can also help you improve your cholesterol levels.)

If you walk with a friend, you’ll have a chance for some good conversation and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Try these tips for creating a program that can improve your overall health.

Before you begin:

  • Get the go-ahead from your doctor, then mark a start date on your calendar.

  • Buy a good pair of walking sneakers with a comfortable, soft upper, good shock absorption, smooth tread and a rocker-sole design that encourages the natural roll of the foot. Try them on at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest, suggests the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Make sure that your heel doesn't slip as you walk, you can wiggle your toes and the shoe feels comfortable overall.

  • Get a pedometer—it acts as a natural motivator. According to a study from Stanford University, people who used a pedometer walked an additional mile per day, lost about 2 to 3 more pounds, and reduced their blood pressure compared to people who walked without a pedometer over an average of 18 weeks.

NEXT: Get moving


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