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Don't 'Exercise,' Walk; Don't Sit, Stand; Author Explains Simple Steps to Well-Being

"If people want to be healthier and prolong their life span, all they really need to do is go for a walk. It's the single easiest thing anyone can do."

Gretchen Reynolds
   Author and New York Times health and fitness columnist

Talk about good news.

It's possible—probable, actually—that you know someone who lives a sedentary life. Sad stat: The lead story in Tuesday's USA Today (May 8) cited a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that that estimates by 2030 42% of Americans will be considered obese.

Reynolds, who has written the Phys Ed column for the New York Times for 10 years, says two-thirds of Americans get no exercise at all. Yikes.

Worthwhile walkingSo share this post with anyone you know who is voluntarily inert. Reynolds' insights could provide a real boost to their quality of life.

Last month Reynolds published The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer. Last Friday Times health reporter Tara Parker-Pope published an enlightening and encouraging Q&A with Reynolds where the author explains better health through exercise—simple exercise, such as walking—is far easier to attain that exercise-averse people may realize.

From the interview: "Ms. Reynolds makes a clear distinction between the amount of exercise we do to improve sports performance and the amount of exercise that leads to better health. To achieve the latter, she explains, we don't need to run marathons, sweat it out on exercise bikes or measure our peak oxygen uptake. We just need to do something.

" 'Humans,' she writes, 'are born to stroll.' "

That's good stuff. In the Q&A Reynolds explains that it's healthier to stand than to sit for extended periods, and that even 20 minutes of basic exercise such as walking will reduce a person's risk of all sorts of chronic diseases, from diabetes to heart disease. To hear a 25-minute conversation with Reynolds conducted on National Public Radio by Fresh Air host Terri Gross, access this NPR article and seek out the podcast.

Reynolds' views reinforce a number of posts we've published in this blog in recent weeks, from endorsing the social and psychic value of walking to encouraging people to use their imaginations, dream up their own urban adventures and simply walk or bike to places where they might customarily drive. Doing so is healthy, it's clean and it's fun.

In the clip below, even the cast of The West Wing regards walking in high enough esteem to have reprised their roles in an effort to encourage Americans to get off their duffs and simply walk:

I'm a hiker, so I know how rewarding and satisfying a good walk can be. Honestly, read the Q&A. Then step outside and enjoy 20 to 30 minutes devoted to making yourself a healthier person. Here's a repeat from Reynolds: "We just need to do something."

Posted on at 6:08 PM

Tagged: Gretchen Reynolds, New York times, fitness, health and walking

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Ann B

Great video Let's walk!

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