What Should the Surgeon General Say to Get More People Walking?

by Tanya Snyder

The Surgeon General wants your help to get more people to walk for exercise and transportation. Photo: Digital Deconstruction

The Surgeon General wants your help to get more people to walk for exercise and transportation. Photo: Digital Deconstruction

What if cars came with a Surgeon General’s warning like the ones that come on cigarette packs: “Sitting in this seat could lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and divorce.”

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is getting ready to go halfway there. She announced in December that she’d be issuing a call to action on walking sometime in 2014. Yesterday, she and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked for help crafting the call.

The CDC opened a docket yesterday to solicit information from the public “on walking as an effective way to be sufficiently active for health.” That information will be used as part of the call to action.

The wording is notable. The CDC is making the case that even if walking is the only exercise you do, it could be “sufficient” to stay healthy. It echoes the recent findings of Australian researchers, who concluded that going to the gym isn’t as effective as active transportation at keeping weight off – largely because it’s easier to work exercise into your day when it accomplishes two goals at once.

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