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Walking to better health

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The lack of physical activity has been named as a risk factor in many of the diseases that are reaching epidemic levels in the United States. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of brisk activity most days in order to lower your risk of developing obesity, hypertension and heart disease and others.

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Walking for a half hour everyday is a great way to start an excercise routine because all you need is a good pair of sneakers. Walking around your neighborhood or on the track at your local high school can be easier to fit into your schedule than a trip to the gym and doesn't require investing time and money participating in a sport.

Once you have been walking locally for a while, you may want to mix things up a bit and try a new venue. Long Island has so many beautiful parks and walking trails the choices are nearly endless.

Here are a few to try:

Nassau County Museum of Art Is located on a 145 acre property with over 40 outdoor sculptures and formal gardens designed by the famous landscape architect, Marian Cruger Coffin.The grounds are open to all for a nominal parking fee of $2.00 on weekends.

Jones Beach State Park is 10 miles of some of the most beautiful beach in the country. You can walk along the beach or on the 2 mile long board walk. There are restroom facilities and interesting placards with pictures and information about the history of the park along the way.

Old Westbury Gardens is a spectacular 200 acre former Gold Coast estate. There is a 1 1/3 mile self guided tour through the gardens. It is open from April through October. Admission is $5.00. Leashed dogs are welcome. Bring your camera with you to this one!

Planting Fields Arboretum was another Gold Coast Estate on 400 acres near Oyster Bay. Now owned by the New York State Dept of Parks, this picturesque property of rolling hills and expansive lawns features hundreds of beautiful trees, gorgeous planting beds and greenhouses. It is open every day except Christmas from 10:00 to 5:00. Admission is $3.00 on weekends and all week from May to Labor Day.

Walking in these beautiful places is like the sugar that helps the medicine go down! As your fitness level and health improve from walking you may be encouraged to commit to other activities and reap even more health benefits.

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