Instead of being a nation of people that sit around, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, wants Americans to get out and walk. Why walking?
Fewer than half of all U.S. adults get enough physical activity to reduce their risk of chronic disease. Physical inactivity contributes to heart and lung disease, diabetes and cancer, which account for 86% of our nation’s health care costs.
According to Dr. Murthy, “We know that an active lifestyle is critical to achieving good overall health. And walking is a simple, effective and affordable way to build physical activity into our lives. That is why we need to step it up as a country ensuring that everyone can choose to walk in their own communities.”
“An average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” added Dr. Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.” Even people living with chronic disease can benefit from being physically active. For example, physical activity can lessen the severity of their condition, as well as prevent disease progression, help manage or reduce symptoms and improve mobility.
Need another reason to walk? Walking has social benefits as well. After a day at work or at school, you can walk and talk with a friend or family member. It can be a way to connect to someone and to spend some time together.
How to start? Simple, by putting one foot in front of the other. With colder weather coming, it may not seem the best time to begin a walking program but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your walk indoors. Weather doesn’t have to be a factor. Whether you live in Midwest or the South, there are plenty of options for walking indoors. Shopping malls around the country have opened up for mall walkers. YMCAs, department stores and schools can often be options. There really isn’t an excuse for not getting off the couch.
To read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action please visit www.surgeongeneral.gov/stepitup.