According to a recent report from the Center for Diseases Control, obesity may soon overtake smoking as the leading cause of death in the U.S. Poor diet and physical inactivity, which lead to obesity, accounted for an estimated 400,000 deaths in 2000. The positive news, however, is that to control your weight, all it takes is 30 minutes a day of walking at a moderate pace or an equivalent activity. In a recent study from Duke University, sedentary overweight people who walked 11 miles a week (about 30 minutes a day) but did not change their diet either maintained their weight or lost a few pounds. Meanwhile, a comparison group who did not exercise or diet gained two to three pounds, on average, over the eight-month period. No matter how poor your current level of fitness, you can start an exercise routine and become fitter and healthier. Even 90-year-old women who use walkers have been shown in studies to benefit from light weight training.
To address all the components of fitness, an exercise program needs to include three important components: aerobic exercise that raises your heart rate; weight lifting or strength training; and flexibility exercises or stretching.
You should discuss getting fit with a health care professional before you begin attempting to improve your fitness level on your own, particularly if you haven't been active in awhile. You absolutely should discuss your fitness plans before you start if you have diabetes or are over 50. This page lists products and walking shoes to help you on your way.