Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls
- Increase your chances of living longer
How much activity do you need?
Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that each week adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity (like walking), and do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days.
There are a number of ways to get adequate exercise. For example, you can spread it out during the week or break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day—as long as you do the activity at a moderate or vigorous pace for at least 10 minutes at a time. For example, you could take a 10-minute brisk walk 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for how-to videos, tracking forms, and other tools to help you set up an exercise plan that works for you.
Fit activity into busy schedules
There are a lot of ways to work in physical activity—even in your busy day.
Here are some tips to help add activity to your life:
- Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
- Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging, or stairclimbing.
- Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example:
- Park farther away from your destination
- Walk or ride your bike to work or shopping
- Walk to pick the kids up from school instead of driving
- Walk the dog rather than just letting him out in the yard
- Exercise while you watch TV
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Find something you like
A healthy lifestyle is made up of lots of small choices. There are many types of activities you can choose from. To meet the guidelines for aerobic activity, basically anything counts, as long as it's done at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. But it is important to find something you like doing—you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Explore the many options: dust off your bicycle, take a dance class, learn to use inline skates or swim, or hike a trail in a nearby park. Keep experimenting until you find the thing that moves you, mentally and physically. If nothing else, just put on comfortable shoes, open the door— and start walking!