April is recognized as Move More Month, a national celebration of the health benefits of walking. To celebrate, UnitedHealthcare has launched a sweepstakes and national fundraiser for Boys & Girls Clubs, plus an online map that provides 10,000-step walking routes in cities nationwide, including St. Louis.

The Step Up for Better Health Sweepstakes runs during April and supports Boys & Girls Clubs, while enabling people to become eligible for a chance to win one of more than 100 walking-related prizes, including a trip for two to hike the Grand Canyon or an Apple Watch.

People can sign the pledge to walk more — and enter the sweepstakes — at uhcwalkingmaps.com, which offers 10,000-step walking routes in more than 50 cities. On behalf of the first 25,000 people to sign the pledge, UnitedHealthcare will donate $25,000 to help reduce childhood obesity, including contributions to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Featured St. Louis courses include 4- and 5-mile jaunts in Forest Park, Lafayette Park and downtown. The maps highlight sights and sounds of each route and the benefits of walking at least 10,000 steps, helping people visualize what that distance looks like in their local area. People can also create their own walking routes and obtain the number of steps between any two points around the country.

Dr. Kim Perry, Chief Medical Officer for UnitedHealthcare of Missouri, offers the following tips to help make walking more fun and effective:

Think FIT: While many people aim for a total number of steps each day, research shows moving throughout the day and taking at least one brisk, 30-minute walk also can have benefits. People should think FIT, which stands for frequency (500 steps within seven minutes six times per day), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day), and tenacity (10,000 total steps per day).  

Find Friends: Walking can also double as a chance to socialize with friends, family, or co-workers. Plus, research shows there are many advantages to recruiting a workout friend, likely because that person can hold you accountable and offer support.

Walk with a Wearable: Recent studies show that people tend to overestimate how much they exercise and underestimate sedentary time. To help understand your actual activity patterns and reinforce positive habits to support sustained change, consider using a wearable device.

Earn Incentives: Lots of employers offer incentive-based wellness programs, including some that enable employees to earn more than $1,000 per year by meeting daily walking goals. Similarly, websites such as achievemint.com enable people to earn cash rewards for walking.