Walking Off the Weight

Shirley Poor walks more than two miles on a treadmill nearly every day — not bad for someone attached to an oxygen tank. Poor, in her sixties, has chronic bronchitis. And emphysema. And asthma. People would understand if she decided to take it easy. But the retired kindergarten teacher from Kissimmee, Florida, plans to put many more miles on her sneakers before she’s through.

Simply put, walking has restored her life. She no longer needs to use her oxygen tank when she does housework or shops for groceries. Her new hobby has also made her the perfect role model for anyone struggling with weight. Since taking up walking two years ago, she and her husband, Bill, a retired Disney executive, have each lost about 20 pounds.

In many ways, walking is the perfect weight-control routine. As Shirley Poor clearly demonstrates, just about anyone can do it. You don’t need any special skills or equipment. It’s relaxing. If you choose to walk outside, it gives you the chance to feel some sunshine and compare the barking styles of the neighborhood dogs. Without a doubt, nothing in a health club is as invigorating as a long walk on a beautiful day.

Most important, walking works, says James Hill, PhD, director of the Colorado Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at the University of Colorado. Hill has been following a large group of