5. Ditch the excuses.

No doubt, there are countless other demands on your time and energy. “I like to call them barriers,” says Whaley. Time, or the lack of it, is the No. 1 barrier to exercise.

Yet people who make exercise a priority find the time. “They have no more hours in the day than the rest of us. They just make walking a priority and look for ways to fit it into their day,” she says.

Wilson, for example, treks with friends at lunch and walks frequently on the campus of the VA Medical Center in Bonham, Texas, where she works as a physician assistant.

Try making your walk do double duty. Walk to a nearby friend’s house for a visit, or do nearby errands on foot. The Bays sometimes walk to a restaurant, have dinner and then pick up groceries on the way home. “No one says you have to concentrate on walking just as exercise,” says Whaley.

Come up with an alternate plan for getting around other barriers: If the weather is bad, walk at the mall or on an indoor track at the gym. On days when your joints ache or you’re really tired, take a shorter walk. But keep moving – a brief walk may end up giving you enough energy for a longer one.

Of course, there will be times when you can’t walk – so accept it. “For many people, walking tends to be an all-or-nothing phenomenon,” says Whaley. “But it’s important sometimes to be able to say, ‘I wasn’t able to do it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get back out there and start again next week.’” That’s what a habit is all about.

•    Schedule it in. Set aside time for your walk, just as you would a business meeting.

•    Always be prepared. Keep a pair of walking shoes in your car, and walk whenever you can.

•    Have a “Plan B.” If you miss a day, know exactly how you’re going to get back on track.