If you’ve ever thought about making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle, it’s time to stop thinking and start moving! The benefits of exercise extend far beyond weight management – not only will regular exercise help you look and feel better, it will add years to your life. Regular physical activity can also help stave off depression, manage stress, lower your blood pressure, boost your energy, help you sleep better, contribute to strengthen muscles and bones, build a healthier heart, and provide an opportunity to be with friends and family and meet new people.
You don’t have to be a hardcore weight lifter or marathon runner to reap the benefits of exercise. According to the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine, all healthy adults ages 18 to 65 should get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity, three days a week. They also recommend strengthening activities at least two days a week. Incorporate moderate activities into your work day by walking at lunch and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. More vigorous forms of exercise include jogging, swimming, and biking. Find activities that you enjoy—sign up for a dance class or try yoga or pilates. Make exercise a family affair and head outdoors for a hike or a lively game of tag.
To get started:
See your doctor to rule out any potential health risks
Before you begin any fitness routine, it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor to determine your health and fitness.
Join a fitness group or gym
Try a new fitness class or join a gym for motivation. If a gym membership is too costly, consider buying some basic home equipment and exercise dvds.
Start off slowly – don’t try to do too much too soon
Ease into any new fitness plan to avoid injuries and don’t forget to warm up for a few minutes prior to exercising.
Enlist the aid of an exercise buddy
An exercise buddy provides support and motivation to keep you going.
Include a mixture of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity
A variety of activities will work different muscles, which helps to prevent injury and also alleviate boredom.
For the most benefits, make physical activity a regular part of your life. Remember: some activity is always better than none.
To learn more, browse our Fitness and Exercise topics:
- Fitness: Walking for Wellness
- Fitness: Increasing Core Stability
- Fitness: Adding More Activity to Your Life