A 10-minute walking stress test can give important information about health risks to those middle aged and older. The test measures cardiorespiratory fitness, or how well the lungs, heart, and blood vessels work together.

Preventative medicine expert Dr Timothy Church, recently told CNN, Fitness is just simply as powerful a risk factor as there is. I think that's a pretty bold statement, and one we would do well to pay attention to.

In fact, a recent study from the Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine in Ibaraki, Japan, found that good cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with a lower risk of death from all causes. And, while being very fit lowers your risk even further, just 30 minutes of walking per day can be protective for most people.

So, why aren't more doctors prescribing fitness as a remedy for what ails us?

Well, after Dr Church commented that fitness is the risk factor to watch for, he went on to say this about exercise testing: It's expensive, it's not easy to do, it requires special equipment, and physicians these days don't even have time to talk about exercise in general, let alone do exercise tests on everybody.

While I'll acknowledge that not everyone can have an exercise stress test, I'm dismayed that doctors don't have time to talk about exercise. Exactly how long does it take to remind patients they should be walking 30 minutes per day, most days of the week? Heck...put up a few signs in the waiting room at least!

Fitness is a personal responsibility to be sure. But, it's such a simple tool to help reduce health risks, it's amazing that more health practitioners aren't pushing it.

Here are 5 simple ways to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise today:

1. Take a Hike: It's perhaps the easiest way to get fit - all you need is a decent pair of shoes. Walk like you're late for the bus, and your pace should be just about right.
2. Swimming: It is summer after all. Swim laps at your local pool, or look for a water aerobics class.
3. Bicycling: Rails-to-trails routes are paved and traffic-free, or go off road if that suits your style better.
4. Clean: Yep, housework counts. But not if you stroll around with a feather duster. Crank up the music and break a sweat while you scrub. Same goes for gardening too.
5. Plug It In: Like a more structured routine? Put on an exercise DVD. I like Leslie Sansone's Walking Away the Pounds series, perfect even for beginners.

Remember, you don't have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of physical fitness. You just need to exercise consistently.