Walk your way to better health – and the chance to win a trip to Thailand!

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The Heart Foundation today kicked off a national walking challenge to encourage Australians to get moving for better health, while also earning them the chance to win a holiday to Thailand.

The Heart Foundation today kicked off a national walking challenge to encourage Australians to get moving for better health, while also earning them the chance to win a holiday to Thailand.

The six-week “Put Your Foot Down” Challenge is being run by Heart Foundation Walking, Australia’s largest free walking community. It starts today (Friday, 1 November) and runs through until Tuesday, 10 December.

For every 100,000 steps walked during the challenge period, as tracked by the Heart Foundation Walking app, participants will go into the draw to win an eight-day holiday for two to Thailand valued at more than $5,000. Other great prizes are also on offer.

Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM, said winning a holiday is a strong incentive to participate in the challenge, but there’s an even greater prize on offer.

“Heart disease is still the single leading cause of death in Australia, claiming 48 lives every day, or one every 30 minutes,” Professor Kelly said.

“Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease, and sadly, more than 50 per cent of adult Australians fail to meet physical activity guidelines,” he said.

“By taking part in our challenge, you will be ‘putting your foot down’ on heart disease and improving your own heart health with every single, decisive step.”

Research shows walking has many and varied health benefits, Professor Kelly added.

“A brisk walk for 30 to 60 minutes most days can improve other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and being overweight. It can also reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke and some cancers,” he said.

“What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain - walking helps stave off the decline in memory, planning and thinking skills that can occur with ageing, and reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Walking is also good for psychological health. Physical activity can improve self-esteem, alertness, mood and sleep quality, and reduce stress, anxiety and fatigue. Active people are less likely to become depressed, and staying active can help people who are depressed to recover.

“Starting slowly and gradually building up over time is the best way to safely increase fitness levels. It can be as easy as getting off the bus two stops early, parking further away from the office, or changing your usual walking route to explore different areas of your neighbourhood.

“If walking were a medicine, we’d all be taking it every day and reaping remarkable health benefits. But if that’s not incentive enough, join our walking challenge for the chance to win some amazing prizes, along with recognition for your efforts throughout your journey.”

To learn more about the challenge, visit Heart Foundation Walking.

The “Put Your Foot Down” challenge coincides with a new Heart Foundation marketing campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of walking, particularly in areas of Australia with a high prevalence of heart disease.

Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.

First prize in the challenge has been provided by Hoot Holidays. Click here for terms and conditions.