Walk for your health — and a worthy cause.

By Margit Feury Ragland

Walk It Off: Charity Walks

Looking for motivation to get you off the couch? We've got it: a charity walk. Whether you're in the mood to cover 2 miles or 22, you can get in shape for a cause. "You'll raise money and awareness while at the same time benefiting your own health," says Michelle Look, MD, medical director of the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk. And even before you cross the finish line, feeling full of accomplishment, you'll have dropped unwanted pounds. Our training walks will get you started.

You can do it! Check out our energizing programs, developed by Alissa Twisk, a personal trainer in London.

You can also map out a route (and see how far it is) here.

Get in Shape for a 5K

  • Three days a week: Make an appointment to walk with a friend, your dog, or your iPod for at least 20 minutes. Each week add an extra 5 minutes onto each of those walks. (So week 2, take three 25-minute walks; week 3, take three 30-minute walks and so on.)
  • One day a week: Head out for 20 minutes and go as fast as you can for three minutes, then take it slow for two minutes. Repeat 3 times.
  • One day a week: Set aside time to walk the full 5K (3.1 miles) distance. Don't worry how long it takes you in the beginning. You'll get faster, and it will get easier each week. To map your route visit:


  • On the weekend: Go in search of some varied terrain and walk up and down the hills for at least 20 minutes.

(Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise plan.)

To Prepare for a Long-Distance Walk

(such as the 2- and 3-day charity walks)

  • Make time for two long (at least 90 minutes) and three short (about 30 minutes) sessions each week. Begin training at least 16 weeks before the event.
  • Integrate short workouts into your life: Walk quickly to work or to meet your kids after school. Move faster than you do on your long walks.
  • Each week add an extra 10 to 20 minutes onto your long walks. Build up to a minimum of 3 hours.
  • As the event nears, do the long walks two days in a row to get your body used to doing a lot one day and then doing it again the very next day.

The Big Day

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before your big event.
  • Bring along an ID, sunscreen, sunglasses, some cash, and a credit card.
  • Don't wear new sneakers. Stick with what's tried and true or risk a blister.
  • Stay hydrated. All organized walks have plenty of facilities for bathroom breaks.
  • Don't eat or drink anything new. This isn't the day to try sport gel for the first time.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the April 17, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.