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Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving more. Start at a comfortable level. Once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time you exercise. Then try doing it more often.
What are the benefits of physical activity?
Physical activity increases your chances of living longer. Exercise can also help:
- Control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight
- Raise your “good” cholesterol
- Prevent heart disease, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes
And that’s not all. Getting more active can:
- Be fun
- Help you look your best
- Improve your sleep
- Make your bones, muscles, and joints stronger
- Lower your chances of becoming depressed
- Reduce falls and arthritis pain
- Help you feel better about yourself
Is physical activity for everyone?
Yes! People of all ages and body types benefit from physical activity. Even if you feel out-of-shape or haven’t been active in a long time, you can find activities that will work for you.
What if I’m overweight?
If you are overweight or obese, getting active can help you lower your risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Some types of cancer
Learn how you can be Active at Any Size.
What if I have a health condition?
If you have a health condition, talk to a doctor about what types of activity are best for you. Physical activity can help you manage your type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. Visit these Web sites to learn more:
- What I Need to Know About Physical Activity and Diabetes
- Physical Activity: Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure
- Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart [PDF - 1.3 MB]
First, think about your current physical activity level. How active are you now?
Click the headings below for suggestions on moving more:
I’m just getting started.
Start out slowly and add new physical activities little by little. After a few weeks or months, do them longer and more often. If you are not sure where to start, check out these examples of weekly physical activity.
Choose an activity that you enjoy.
Team up with a friend or join a class. Ask your family and friends to be active with you. Play games like tennis or basketball, or take a class in dance or martial arts.
Everyday activities can add up to an active lifestyle. You can:
- Go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood
- Rake leaves
- Ride a bicycle
Strengthen your muscles.
Try some of these activities a few days a week:
- Heavy gardening (digging or shoveling)
- Doing push-ups on the floor or against the wall
- Lifting small weights (use cans of food if you don’t have weights)
Have fun with your family.
If you have children, be a role model for making healthy choices. Encourage your whole family to get outside and get active – go for a hike or organize a family soccer game.
Use these tips to talk with a family member about getting more active.
Remember: It’s not all or nothing. Even 10 minutes of activity is better than none! Try walking for 10 minutes a day a few days a week.
Find a time that works for you. Try fitting in 10 minutes of activity before work or in the evening after dinner.
Track your progress.
Use this score chart [PDF - 80 KB] to measure your current fitness level. Fill out the chart again after you get moving, and see your score go up over time.
Use a pedometer.
A pedometer clips onto your belt or waistband and counts the number of steps you take. Increase the number of steps you take each day until you are taking at least 8,500 steps a day.
Check out these tips for using a pedometer.
Learn how to do strength training.
Watch these videos for tips on how to do:
Check out the do’s and don’ts of strength training with weights.
I’m doing a little, but I’m ready to become more active.
You may be feeling the benefits of getting active, such as sleeping better or getting toned. Here are 2 ways to add more activity to your life.
- Be active longer each time. If you are walking 3 days a week for 30 minutes, try walking 3 times a week for 50 minutes.
- Be active more often. If you are riding your bike to work 3 days a week, try riding your bike to work 5 days a week.
Get to know your schedule.
Look at your schedule for the week. Find several 30-minute time periods you can use for physical activity. Write them on your calendar.
Keep track of your activities with this activity log [PDF - 123 KB].
I’m already physically active, and I want to keep it up.
f you are already active for 2 hours and 30 minutes each week, you can get even more health benefits by stepping up your routine.
Work your way up to 5 hours or more of activity each week. This level of activity can lower your chances of getting breast and colorectal cancer.
Add more vigorous activities.
In general, 15 minutes of vigorous activity provides the same benefits as 30 minutes of moderate activity. Try jogging for 15 minutes instead of walking.
Mix it up.
Mix vigorous activities with moderate ones. Try joining a fitness group or gym class. Don’t forget to do muscle-strengthening activities 2 days a week.
Check out the Presidential Champions program to get personalized activity logs, training tips, and more. See just how high you can raise your activity level!
Content courtesy of National Health Information Center at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Original content and additional information can be found at http://www.healthfinder.gov/prevention/ViewTopicFull.aspx?topicID=22.