Why Americans Need to Start Walking More

The very mention of exercise turns many people off, and often invokes a reaction of, “Forget it.” But why? Exercise is essential to a healthy life. Without regular exercise, we suffer premature ailments and unnecessary pains of many kinds. So why are people so resistant to exercise?

In part, it may be because our culture no longer supports staying in shape. When I went to school, we had physical education classes three times weekly, recess outdoors twice daily and lots of sports programs to join. My friends and I spent our childhoods running around, playing games, playing sports, bicycling, running, climbing trees, making general mischief and walking all over the place. It was fun. We were skinny and toned and full of energy.

In those days, the organization now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition had a big national presence, and we were exhorted to maintain good health through regular exercise. Today, as many schools eliminate physical education classes and cut down on recess time, physical fitness seems to have been relegated to the dustbin of social initiatives. There seems to be a clear divide between those who stay active through exercise, and those who don’t.

To many, the word exercise suggests going to a gym and working out with weights and machines. But this is just one of many options, and not necessarily the best. For those who would like to get in better shape and be healthier overall — but don’t want to don a sweatsuit or pump iron — there is a simple and highly effective solution. It is called walking.