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Honest Abe

“Chop your own wood—it will warm you twice”
Abe Lincoln

It’s no wonder Abe was so thin and fit. Over 100 years ago, well before science proved him correct, he understood the relation of an active lifestyle to maintaining optimal health.

We know that sedentary behavior is deadly. The Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health made it very clear that being a couch potato is as dangerous for you as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. That’s pretty scary when you realize that that represents one third of our population including kids. The statistics get worse for minorities, the elderly and handicapped individuals.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, or even train hard every day to reap most of the health benefits of exercise. Just getting off the couch and avoiding sedentary behavior improves your health by lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

Chopping wood, washing your car, walking to the store, gardening, and playing with your kids all count. Try to accumulate (it actually adds up) 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. Once you are hooked on that, I recommend adding more planned, balanced exercise including cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training for even better health and fitness. You can track your activities on the new President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports site at

Getting back to Abe, as usual he was right, but chopping that wood actually warms you thrice. You break a sweat chopping it and you certainly warm up by the fireplace later, but also, because of your bout of exercise, there is an afterburn. This added benefit of exercise results in your burning more calories even later during the day. This is one of the reasons why exercise along with healthy eating is the key to long term weight loss and control—hence honest and lean Abe.


Get off the couch, shut the TV, power down the laptop, and look for something to do. Get moving… NOW!

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