You may want to take a step beyond just walking with friends and family -- and join one of the many walking clubs. Clubs exist all over the country.
Many clubs sponsor walking events, which can put some zip into your walking program. These events range from low-key togetherness walks to high-powered racewalking events.
On the friendlier, noncompetitive end of the spectrum are 6- or 12-mile walking events called volkswalks -- that's "people's walks" in German -- sponsored by local branches of the American Volkssport Association.
Many worthy charities also sponsor walking events. Remember, too, that many racewalkers -- and freestyle walkers -- join events that are meant primarily for joggers.
Marathons are an example: Covering 26 miles is no mean feat, whether you jog, racewalk, or just plain walk the distance. Be sure that you prepare for these events, gradually increasing the distance of your daily walk.
Cross-training means devoting oneself to more than one activity for fitness. By definition, it's a boredom buster, because you can switch from one activity to another.
If you've been following a walking program, and you now feel that you're ready for a new challenge, a cross-training program may be for you.
For walkers, cross-training is an important opportunity to choose a companion activity that does what walking can't do -- build upper body strength. Swimming, weight training, rowing, and cross-country skiing are all good companion activities.
You can devise your own personal cross-training routine, using walking as the cornerstone of your active lifestyle. Start by choosing just one new activity to do on "off" days -- the days when you don't do your fitness walking.
Keep in mind that, just as in walking, you will need to progress with your companion activity gradually. After adding an activity on top of your regular walking routine, you'll want to wait at least three months before adding yet another activity.
To learn more about walking, see:
Peggy Norwood Keating, MA, Contributing consultant
Rebecca Hughes, Contributing writer