Jacqui Gilmore and Francine Quigley walk around Lady Bird Lake in this file photo by Kelly West.

Does the idea of running make you break out in a cold sweat? Slow down for a minute.

Walking offers many of the same benefits of running, with less risk of injury. And since Wednesday has been proclaimed National Walking Day, it’s a good time to lace up a comfortable pair of shoes and get moving.

It’s also the perfect time to kick off Million Mile Month, when people across the country are encouraged to exercise and log their activity. The goal? For the community to log a collective 1 million miles of physical activity.

Here in Austin, a kickoff is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Austin City Hall Plaza, 301 West Second Street. Mayor Steve Adler, along with Steve Amos of Million Mile Month, the American Heart Association and representatives of the medical and fitness community will gather to encourage people to join the effort.

If you need motivation, consider this: More than 80 percent of the workforce sits most of the day. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and obese people have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, and social and psychological problems.

To compete on leader boards, go to http://www.millionmilemonth.org. Participants can win prizes, such as a stand-up paddle board, a jogging stroller, gift cards to Whole Foods and St. Bernard Sports, activity trackers, massages and more.

USA Fit Austin has its own celebration planned, including an array of walking events that start at Luke’s Locker, 115 Sandra Muraida Way. They’re all free and open to the public. Here’s the schedule:

6 a.m.- 5K Speed-walking workout 10 a.m. – 5K Walking history tour of downtown Austin Noon – The Essentials of Walking 7 p.m. Basic walking tips and introduction to USA Fit Austin’s Walking Program

“Walking is such a great way for anyone to step up their personal exercise routine,” says USA Fit Austin Walking Organizer Elayne Barber. It’s also a great way to experience races of different distances.

Registration for USA Fit Austin’s Summer Walking Group Training Program opens in late April with two new meeting locations in central Austin and south Austin. For more information go here. visit http://www.AustinFit.com