Stroll Yourself Thin

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Good news for those who thought they would have to master the intricacies of step classes or sweat it up on a treadmill. People can get adequate exercise performing everyday activities, says a report issued by the Surgeon General's office Wednesday. Gardening, pushing the baby's stroller, and even washing your car are may provide significant health benefits, as long as they are done often enough and long enough. The report says moderate exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease, developing diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer, depression and anxiety. "People will read this report more closely than other studies on health and exercise because it relates to their everyday lives. It deals with activities most people do," says TIME's Ann Blackman. "But the most alarming news is that so few Americans, especially children, exercise at all." The rept says 60 percent of American adults do not engage in the recommended amount of activity, and that 25 percent don't exercise at all. Just as bad, early half of American children ages 12 to 21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis. "Many schools have cut back on their physical education classes because of cost cutting," says Blackman. "But in the end it will just cost more. More people get sick because they don't exercise and everybody ends up paying through increased health care costs." -- Lamia Abu-Haidar