And we’re not talking marathon
walking either. The peak benefits
come from 30 minutes of exercise
several times a week, say experts.
Most of us do need to move more:
Only 30 percent of people ages 45 to
64 say they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity, and that drops
to 25 percent for those 65 to 74, according to the National Institute on
Aging, which has launched a “get off
your duff” campaign called Go4Life.
And even if you weigh 400 pounds
and can’t climb a flight of stairs—
you can start walking. Just ask Rick
Genter, a 51-year-old software
engineer in Redwood City, Calif.,
was morbidly obese 10 years ago.
He lived in the Boston area then
and spent his whole day sitting at
a computer. Walking up a flight of
stairs left him gasping for breath.
“My whole family is obese,” he says.
“My mother died at age 56. My father
is at least 150 pounds overweight and
The Easiest Exercise
on all sorts of medication. I had high
cholesterol, high triglycerides and I
was convinced I was on my way to
diabetes, a heart attack, or both.”
Genter joined a medically super-
vised weight loss program. They
told him he needed to do some kind
of exercise every day.
“They said, ‘Do anything as long
as you like it,’ ” he recalls.
Walking seemed doable, so he
started out slowly, walking 30 minutes each day on his lunch break.
“I found I really liked it. And as I
started to lose weight, it got easier,”
As the pounds came off, he began
walking to work—seven miles each
way—even in winter.
“It felt so great. It made me un-
derstand what was meant by ‘a run-
ner’s high.’ ”
Nearly a year after he started diet-
ing and walking, Genter had lost 186
pounds and was down to his goal
weight of 200 pounds. He got a new
he lost a
total of 186
; Break it up. If your
goal is 30 minutes, try
a 15-minute walk twice
a day. Or break it into
three 10-minute walks.
; Wear a pedometer. Taking
5,000 steps or fewer daily is
considered sedentary. Work
your way up to 10,000 steps,
which is considered active.
; Walk the mall if
you can’t walk outside
in your neighborhood.
If you can afford it,
get a treadmill.
COVER AND AFTER PHOTOS: JONATHAN SPRAGUE/REDUX, BEFORE: COURTESY GENTER
; Keep track of your time
and distance walked each
day. Keeping a daily log lets
you see your progress and
keeps you motivated.