Take Action for a Healthier Life

How to Add More Activity to Your Day

You may know that exercise is good for you, but did you know that even small amounts of physical activity offer important and quick benefits? Drop the all-or-nothing attitude about exercise. Don’t have time to work out for the 45 minutes that you planned? Then walk briskly for 10 minutes. It’s essential to be flexible because life happens. Let go of ideas of perfection and let yourself feel good about what you can—and do—get done.

Fitness: Getting and Staying Active

Fitness means being able to perform physical activity. It also means having the energy and strength to feel as good as possible. Getting more fit, even a little bit, can improve your health. You don't have to be an athlete to be fit. A brisk half-hour walk every day can help you reach a good level of fitness. And if this is hard for you, you can work toward a level of fitness that helps you feel better and have more energy.

What are the benefits of fitness?

Fitness helps you feel better and have more energy for work and leisure time. You'll feel more able to do things like:

  • Playing with your kids
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Biking 

Children and teens who are fit may have more energy and better focus at school.

When you stay active and fit, you burn more calories, even when you're at rest. Being fit lets you do more physical activity. And it lets you exercise harder without as much work. It can also help you manage your weight.

Improving your fitness is good for your heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and joints. And it lowers your risk for falls, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. If you already have one or more of these problems, getting more fit may help you control other health problems and make you feel better.

Being more fit also can help you to sleep better, handle stress better, and keep your mind sharp.

How much physical activity do you need for health-related fitness?

Experts say your goal should be one, or a combination, of these:

  • Take a 10-minute walk 3 times a day. Do this 5 days a week
  • Take a half-hour walk 3 days a week. On the other 4 days take a 15-minute walk
  • Take a 45-minute walk every other day
  • Run for 25 minutes 3 times a week
  • Run for 15 minutes 5 times a week

Children as young as preschool age need activity. Encourage your child (age 6 to 17) to do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day.

What types of physical activity improve fitness?

The activities you choose depend on which kind of fitness you want to improve. There are three different kinds of fitness:

  • Aerobic fitness makes you breathe faster and makes your heart work harder for a while. Aerobic activities include walking, running, cycling, and swimming. Aerobic fitness is also called cardio or cardiovascular training.
  • Muscle fitness (strength) means building stronger muscles and increasing how long you can use them. Activities like weight lifting and push-ups can improve your muscular fitness.
  • Flexibility is the ability to move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. Stretching is an exercise that helps you to be more flexible.

How can you be more physically active?

It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before becoming more active, especially if you haven't been very active or have health problems. If you're ready to add more physical activity to your life, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Make physical activity part of your regular day. Make a regular habit of using stairs, not elevators, and walking to do errands near your home.
  • Start walking. Walking is a great fitness activity that most people can start doing. Make it a habit to take a daily walk with family members, friends, coworkers, or pets.
  • Find an activity partner. This can make exercising more fun.
  • Find an activity that you enjoy, and stay with it. Vary it with other activities so you don't get bored.
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