The American Heart Association recommends monitoring your heart rate when participating in any fitness program – even one as simple as walking – to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. Some tips to keep you on target:

•    Check your pulse periodically to make sure you are within your target heart rate, which is 50 percent to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. (Your maximum beats per minute can be found by subtracting your age from 220.)

•    Stay within your target heart rate to provide the best benefits of exercise to your body. When you start a program, aim for 50 percent. If you have been walking for some time, try to reach 75 percent. Check your pulse. If it’s below your target heart rate, try increasing your pace to be sure you are working at your optimal level, and vice versa if your pulse is too high.

•    Not sure you’re within your target range? Here’s a way to cheat: Carry on a conversation. If you can talk without exertion while you walk, you’re within your target heart rate. If not, slow your pace.