The American Heart Association wants people to lace up for their heart health and get moving on National Walking Day on Wednesday, April 2.

Simply walking has many health benefits, which makes National Walking Day the ideal time to kick-start your physical activity routine. Research has shown that every hour of regular exercise can add about two hours to your life expectancy, even if you don’t start until middle age.

Plus, physical activity can also relieve depression, improve your memory and lower your blood pressure. On the other hand, being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of all Americans.

Ary Nuñez, a trainer and American Heart Association volunteer, watched her grandmother, aunt and even her younger sister face strokes, and her mom battles heart disease. That’s why she wants to encourage people to get moving on National Walking Day and wear red shoe laces. She said it’s a way to show that as a nation, “we will lace up, move and fight heart disease.”

The association is using social media to encourage people to put red laces in their workout shoes, take a picture of themselves with the laces while getting physically active and post the picture to their social media accounts using the hashtag #AHALaceUp.

Adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, while kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. But 80 percent of Americans don’t make exercise a regular habit, according to a recent American Heart Association survey. This can lead to obesity, which costs American companies $225.8 billion a year in health-related productivity losses.

More information:

Get tips on loving exercise — or at least not hating it.

Check out this free toolkit about National Walking Day.

Find out how a New York company is marking National Walking Day with free city tours

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