New Smartphone Application Helps Get People Walking

walking Finding a safe, free and centrally located walking path is now as easy as picking up the phone, thanks to a new smartphone application from the American Heart Association.

The free Walking Paths app enables users to find, tag and “like” more than 2,500 American Heart Association-designated walking paths across the country, or even create and save favorite walking paths using the GPS function as they walk.

The app is available now for GPS-enabled Android smartphones – in time for the fifth annual National Start! Walking Day on April 6, when the American Heart Association calls on all Americans to find 30 minutes in their day to walk to improve their heart health. The app will be available for iPhone and iPad users via iTunes on May 1.

The walking paths reflect the American Heart Association’s commitment to reaching its goal for the year 2020: to improve all Americans’ cardiovascular health by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. To reach this goal, the association is helping people and their families find more ways to increase their physical activity and make other healthy lifestyle changes.

“The American Heart Association recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week,” said American Heart Association President Ralph L. Sacco, M.D. “Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day will improve circulation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and promotes weight loss. Additional benefits occur as the amount and intensity of physical activity increases.”

Employees of UnitedHealthcare in Las Vegas and Kingston, N.Y., are already gearing up to celebrate National Start! Walking Day. They have designated walking paths near their office complexes and are planning a ceremonial lap  April 6. UnitedHealthcare was the fourth-largest national fundraising supporter of the American Heart Association’s 2010 Heart Walks.

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