Image by Amanda Mills, USCDCPPhysical inactivity has been called the biggest public health problem of the 21st century. Of course just because someone calls it that doesn’t mean it’s true, in fact physical inactivity ranks down at #5 in terms of risk factors for death, and #6 in terms of risk factors for disability. Diet is by far our greatest killer, followed by smoking.

But, there is irrefutable evidence of the “effectiveness of regular physical activity in the prevention of several chronic diseases—cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression, osteoporosis, and premature death”—helping to add years to our life, and above all, “life to our years.” It truly may be survival of the fittest.

How much exercise do we need? In general, the answer is the more the better. Currently, “most health and fitness organizationsadvocate a minimum of a thousand calories of exercise a week,” which is equivalent to walking an hour a day five days a week. Seven days a week, though, may be even better in terms of extending one’s lifespan.

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