Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:

Exercise has long been recognized as critical for maintaining a healthy heart and strong bones and muscles. But few Americans get enough movement into our daily lives to maximize the benefits. What can we learn about exercise to help us get up off the couch? Is exercise really healthy for everyone–young, old, fit or out of shape?

Research suggests that physical activity has mental benefits as well. Exercise proved as helpful as prescription medication in alleviating major depression. Another study indicates that exercise helps sharpen and maintain cognitive function. Crossword puzzles may be fun, but a nice brisk walk might be better for the brain. Why not do both?

Guests: James A. Blumenthal, PhD is professor of behavioral medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.

Gretchen Reynolds is an award-winning journalist and author of the “Phys Ed” column for The New York Times. Her book is The First 20 Minutes: The Myth-Busting Science That Shows How We Can Walk Farther, Run Faster and Live Longer. You can find her on Twitter, she’s @GretchenReynold.

The photo of Gretchen Reynolds was taken by Russell Thurston.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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  1. S.P.

    Great information as usual. I am sharing it with my daughter. I never exercised until late 30s. Am over 70 now, take no drugs, weigh what I did at 18, and feel great. I attribute much of my good health and outlook to exercise in addition to a holistic diet. Over the years I was a skier and a runner. As I aged I gave that up for biking, spinning, yoga, tennis and gardening. It is never too late to start moving.

  2. Karmic

    I share many of your sentiment that we are now repeating the basics to the growing sedentary, overweight, and unhealthy group of people. But repeat we must, and to actively urge all of us to change the culture and lifestyle, rather than seeking instant solution through prescription, fad diet and trendy health club.
    I have chosen to live close where I work, so I can walk or bike to work; my son went to the neighborhood school and did the same. My husband and I usually stand when we check our emails; conveniently I lay my iPad on top of the upright piano ( it’s the right height for me) and his on a chest. Like Mary Rose and the author, I do my crane stand or a tree pose when I brush my teeth, washing dishes or stirring risotto. I often tie my sneaker standing up. While kneading my bread dough I do my squads. I inherit my mother’s way of watching movie at home, standing and doing mild stretching. We never go through drive-through; it doesn’t matter how much a hurry it is, getting out of the car guarantees a brief walk, stretch and often times faster service.
    All these is just part of healthy way of living. To me it’s always better on my feet than my rear; it’s better moving than staying still. .
    Thank you for your show, this episode and others, to help bring the message to healthy way of living.

  3. Donna

    My undiagnosed asthma finally caught up with me last year and nearly killed me when I was doing 1 hour zumba sessions. After getting the right medicine, I’m building back up to that kind of intensity. Already I can tell that the incremental exercise is making me better physically & mentally. I can’t wait to fight back all the bad stuff I got from too much migraine meds (from the asthma) and too little exercise.
    “Doing anything is better than nothing.”

  4. HH

    I agree! What an awful comment regarding depression. They are usually so informed! I’m sure this will be addressed in the next show in some way as they risk alienating half their audience.

  5. Fran W.

    I really appreciate The People’s Pharmacy, however, Joe’s ignorant comment regarding a person with depression “sitting on the couch feeling sorry for themselves” only perpetuates an inaccurate stigma that his show should be working towards dispelling. Truly appalling.

  6. Rebecca Christenberry

    Your radio show has literally been a sort of directional “north star” for me, as far as health concerns, since I listened to your interview with Walter Willet about his then forthcoming book “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy,” back in 2001/2001. I bought that book and read through it several times. I was amazed by what I read, and my thoughts and actions regarding food were changed. Several years pasted. Busy, I wasn’t always able to catch your show until some friends at the Wellness Center here in Chapel Hill were talking about your interview with Lauren Fishman on the topic of yoga, back in the fall of 2011. At that time, I started downloading automatically podcasts of your show. Every week I look forward to listening to your show at my leisure. This week’s show “Movement for Mood and Wellbeing” is another wonderful show, with immediate practical applications to everyday life. I am so appreciative of your work. Thanks so much!

  7. Mary Rose

    Listening to your shows is a regular habit of mine, and this one was excellent, as usual. But I didn’t appreciate your making light of my long-standing tooth-brushing/balance routine. It is a great way to practice balance, and it encourages longer brushing as well. You should try it! Thanks for your good work, Mary. PS: I also practice my balance when I warm up my tea in the microwave!

  8. Hampten

    Surprised that we could spend an entire hour “informing” hundreds of thousands of general listeners that “exercise is good for you”. That’s it. Saying the same thing over and over and over, different ways. Citing books and studies showing that many popularly prescribed medicines are no longer needed for mental or physical diseases when participants basically “use their bodies for 20 minutes a day”.
    It’s correct. And I was not surprised by the content, but upon reflection, I am shocked that our society’s collective, over-intellectualized, over-medicated, rationalizing, (selfish?), hubris could have become so blinding to our basic ability to decipher this cause-and-effect, that hundreds of thousands of listeners would NEED to hear that “exercise is good for you” repeated to them, over and over, for an HOUR!
    What are we becoming?!

  9. Allie

    I listened with interest yesterday to the show about moving. I waited to hear my question during the show, but it came up short. My question is this : I run for three miles a day. My sister runs for ten miles every couple of days. We both swear by our method as being the BEST way to do it. She says the endurance is important. That to come to your ‘limit’ and surpass it is where all the healthy ju-ju comes from. I think that it is the regularity and repetition. Which one of us is right?

  10. tm

    I walk 30-50 min every day and supplement that with strength training and the Arc Trainer, elliptical, or stationary bicycle at the fitness center. I always stretch at the end of my cardio exercises and incorporate yoga poses with the stretching, focusing a lot on piriformis and hip flexor muscles and back strengthening exercises. Whenever I park my car on a parking lot, I park a distance away from the store or business where I’m going, which forces me to walk farther. I also take the stairs, rather than the elevator, if I have a choice. Keeping active truly is the key to health and long life.
    Since I have sacroiliac dysfunction, I try to keep my core muscles strong so I can rely on those muscles to help me walk more upright and also maintain balance so I don’t have to worry about falling.
    A side effect of keeping active has been weight control, but I basically eat what I want, within reason, of course.

  11. Kathy

    Such an inspiring program today! I am one of those who sits at a desk all day, once home fix dinner and flop on the sofa exhausted. Today I promise myself I WILL CHANGE.
    Knowing friends who run five miles a day is intimidating, and a little overwhelming. But…your guest’s many practical suggestions reminded me that I can do this. I think listening today just may have increased my life span :-)

  12. Charlotte H.

    Your program today was very interesting and I feel for sedintary people who do not exercise. I will be 84 March 1. My winter weekly schedule is figure skating Mon. for about two hrs. Tues. AM aerobic dancing, mobile meals delivery at noon and early eve. choir practice. Wed. AM back to the skating when I teach adults,from ages 30 to 78. Some are learning ice dances. Thurs.eve. I rehearse with a performing music group memorizing songs and choriography. Fri. AM aerobics and after lunch I rehearse with a womens choral group that preforms Christmas time and in spring (with music). Sat. is open. Sun. is Church with Choir.
    I feel good in spite of A.fib. My DR. told me to keep active but do not get over tired! Oh, when the skating is over I play golf. However, I no longer walk because of hills, but I’m still out there. I have inspired many others. A neighbor of mine asks me how how I get my energy and I tell him, because I energise

  13. EBP

    Terrific show. I reunion with my sorority sisters annually on Cape Cod. We are in our early 60’s and celebrate our decades of friendship. Each year there is more conflict about our activities and only a couple of us are taking advantage of the bicycling, hiking, and beach walking right outside our door. Three of our friends seem much older; they are less mobile, overweight, and take prescriptions for diabetes, depression, and cholesterol. They are sedentary and prefer driving to stores and browsing a few shops to the outdoors. They often opt for fried and rich foods.
    I am going to share this broadcast with the hopes that it inspires them to start moving and that they learn it is not too late to make a difference in their health. We all have successful business careers so I am hoping the link to better mental functioning may be the hook to get them off the couch to walk for 20-minutes three times a week.

  14. Uffa

    Question in the show was ” how do you get motivated to get out there and exercise”. That is real simple because if you, as mentioned in the show, get started right, you simply begin to feel better and that feeling
    gets “under your skin” . And, you want to get out there and continue. Thanks!

  15. LuLu

    My life partner recently purchased a desk tread treadmill. She used to be sitting all day working on her Macbook. Now she’s walking 1 m.p.h. and typing and reading. Of course, she takes breaks throughout the day. When I get up in the morning, she’s already been on it for an hour! Your thoughts?
    Lu in asheville
    You and she may enjoy our interview with Dr. James Levine

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