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Here are a few tips to make your next hike a safe one.

Taking the first steps

Walk with your chin up and your shoulders held slightly back.

Walk so that the heel of your foot touches the ground first. Roll your weight forward.

Walk with your toes pointed forward.

Swing your arm as you walk

Safety tips

Walk in the daylight or in well-lighted areas at night.

Walk in a group at all times.

Notify your local police station of your groupís walking time and route.

Do not wear jewelry or carry other valuables.

Do not wear headphones.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Warm up!

Before you walk, itís a good idea to stretch. Do not bounce. Perform movements slowly and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.

Side stretches: Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Knee pull: Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee up to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.

Wall push: Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about three to four feet away from the wall. Bend the knee on your front leg and point it toward the wall, keep your back leg straight with your foot flat and your toes point straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Leg curl: Pull your right foot to your buttocks with your right hand. Keep your knee pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your left foot and hand.

Sample walking program

Week 1:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 5 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 15 minutes.

Week 2:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 8 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 18 minutes.

Week 3:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 11 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 21 minutes.

Week 4:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 14 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 24 minutes.

Week 5:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 17 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 27 minutes.

Week 6:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 20 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 30 minutes.

Week 7:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 23 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 33 minutes.

Week 8:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 26 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 36 minutes.

Week 9 and beyond:
Warmup - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Fast walk- Walk briskly 30 minutes., Cool down - Walk slowly 5 minutes., Total time - 40 minutes.

Sources: Weight Control Information Network, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.

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