Almost everyone knows the good news about walking: that it wears better on your hips than a hot fudge sundae; that, unlike running, it won't make your ankles wobbly; that it's inexpensive; that it's healthy.
But getting prospective walkers interested enough to commit themselves has been another story.
Enter the Walkways Center, a Washington-based national association founded last May. "Walking needs promotion, and we want to be an umbrella organization for all kinds of walking information," says Joan Shorey, one of the founders.
Walkways, a nonprofit organization, aims to be a national clearinghouse of data on organized walkers' activities, competitions, products and trends.
To serve that purpose, the center regularly sends newsletters to its 4,000 members, as well as tips and brochures. An everything-you-wanted-to know almanac is in the works.
Recent newsletters highlighted the Ramblers, a British club planning to explore England by foot; President Reagan's Commission on Americans Outdoors, one of whose projects is to study outdoor walkers' needs; and local walker Alice Rivlin, director of the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.
A regular feature is Walker's Exchange, a miniclassified section that gives readers the opportunity to link up with the growing network of people seeking fellow walkers and organized walking events.
Other newsletter tidbits are maps with walks around the city's ethnic neighborhoods, and instructions on foot care, complete with graphics.
Products and services -- from shoes to socks to canes to exotic walking hotspots, such as the Indian Himalayas, and not-so-exotic, such as Chesapeake Bay country -- are advertised in the newsletter.
Setting up walking tours for travelers is a Walkways specialty: Packages include hauling the walker's clothes and supplies from inn to inn so that travelers can walk between destinations.
Walkways also has information on walking clubs and routes for people on business trips, as well as walking tours planned around architectural landmarks and artists' residences.
Membership is $17 a year or $29 for two years. For further information: The Walkways Center, 733 15th St. NW, Suite 427, Washington D.C. 20005; (202) 737-9555.