Jeff Angileri
Apr 8, 2009, 6:04 PM

The Henry Vilas Zoo is usually bustling with people on a gorgeous spring day. But today wasn't just about seeing the animals. Hundreds of people visited the zoo and park, as a pledge to walk for health.

Walking helps with your blood pressure, with diabetes, weight loss, and and it just improves your mood. Many people feel better when they're done exercising, said Sara Carrick, exercise physiologist at St. Mary's Hospital.

According to Carrick, walking can even reduce a person's prescription drug use.

A lot of our patients get off some of their pills just by adding 30 minutes a day of nice paced exercise, she said.

Experts say adults may gain as many as two hours of life expectancy for each hour of regular, vigorous physical activity.

We say a brisk pace -- faster than your normal walking pace, but not so fast that you can talk, said Carrick.

And experts say, people should walk year-round. Wisconsin's cold weather is not an excuse for skipping out.

A lot of the malls have marked paths that people can walk, schools open up early and stay open late for people to go walk in, Carrick said.

The Start! Walking program has three personalized walking plans for people with varying goals and fitness levels. You can download your own for free by going to www.startwalkingnow.org.