The next big health care breakthrough — which could cut rates of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and Alzheimers by at least 40 percent and save Americans $100 billion a year — comes from a place you’d least expect. What’s this amazing treatment, which also happens to be easy, enjoyable and virtually free? It’s as simple as taking a walk.
“Being physically active is one of the most important things people of all ages can do for their health,” explains Joan Dorn of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She notes walking for exercise ranks No. 1 among Americans’ favorite aerobic activities, and that walking as little as 30 minutes is one way to achieve significant health benefits.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin has announced that she is preparing a Call to Action on Walking, which is being compared to the famous 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of smoking. “Walking is easy,” Dr. Benjamin told a group of health, business, education and government leaders who came together in Washington to advance a walking-for-health movement. A national summit is being planned for Oct. 1-3, 2013.
Americans already walk more than many people realize, as pedestrians account for 11 percent of daily transportation trips nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Data from the Federal Highway Administration’s 2009 National Household Survey show Americans walk in surprisingly large numbers to work (35 percent), shops (40 percent) and school or church (46 percent) — when those places are a mile or less from home.
Walking for exercise is on the rise. And the launch of a new walking movement offers promise for substantially increasing Americans’ physical activity.
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