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A Slower Pace To Fitness

A pair of studies published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association shows you don't have to sweat it out in the health club to get the benefits of exercise.

Dallas school principal Bruce McDonald is a prime example, "Exercise wasn't a real part of my life, I was just too busy," he says. That is until, as CBS News Correspondent John Roberts reports, he took part in a revolutionary fitness study.

The studies looked at two groups of sedentary people. One was put on a vigorous exercise program like you'd find at a gym. The other was taught to make simple lifestyle changes like taking the stairs more often or parking the car a little further from the shopping mall door.

The results were surprising. In the first 6 months under supervision, the exercise group was leading in overall fitness. But 18 months after supervision stopped, the lifestyle group had caught up, in part because more people were able to stay with the program.

Dr. Michael Pratt of the Centers for Disease Control says the research sends a positive message to people who don't have the time or inclination to start an exercise program, "You don't have to be a marathoner. You don't have to be a heavy-duty weightlifter. You can walk in your neighborhood, you can play with your kids or grandkids and you can do some gardening."

Andrea Dunn of The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research agrees, "Doing lifestyle physical activity is a great way for people to improve their health and well being and gain significant health benefits."

Bruce McDonald is proof it works. He dropped 25 pounds during the study and was motivated enough to now add a regular workout to his routine. A bit of inspiration for the 60 percent of Americans who don't get enough exercise -- a little can go a long way.