People come up with lots of reasons to avoid physical activity. They feel too tired, too busy, too out of shape, too old and the list goes on. But these obstacles pale in comparison to the many benefits of boosting your activity, even by a modest
People come up with lots of reasons to avoid physical activity. They feel too tired, too busy, too out of shape, too old and the list goes on. But these obstacles pale in comparison to the many benefits of boosting your activity, even by a modest amount. Regardless of your age, gender or athletic ability, physical activity can enrich your health and well-being.
What can physical activity do for you? Coupled with a healthy diet, it can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It can help prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. Your overall well-being may brighten as well because physical activity can help you reduce stress, gain energy, sleep better, and fight depression and anxiety.
Some physical activities—such as weight-bearing exercises like jogging, tennis and weight lifting—can also help you build and maintain healthy muscle and bone. That’s important at any age, but especially critical for older adults.
Experts recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. Moderate-intensity activities make you breathe harder and make it more difficult to talk, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Children and adolescents need double what adults do. If weight loss is your goal, aim for at least an hour of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day.
If you’re reluctant to get physically active, think about the top 3 hurdles you face. Write them down, then list possible solutions. If expense is a concern, choose free activities like walking around parks or nature trails. If the weather is an obstacle, consider walking around the mall or working out with fitness videos at home.
If the demands of family, friends and work leave you pressed for time, add physical activity to your daily routine. Try taking lunchtime walks, using the stairs instead of the elevator or enjoying an evening stroll around the neighbourhood. Even everyday chores, like household cleaning and yard work, can get you moving.
Some people prefer structured exercise. No matter what kind of physical activities you choose, be sure to include some that are fun. Maybe you’d enjoy dancing, gardening or bike riding. Pick whatever activities fit your schedule, and set your plan in motion.
Ease your way into a physically active life
- First, ask your physician what type and amount of physical activity is right for you
- Start slowly. Work up to daily physical activities of 30 minutes to improve health, 60 minutes to lose weight and 60-90 minutes to help maintain weight loss
- Ask family and friends to join you, and make it fun. Form walking groups with co-workers, play with your children outside or take a dance class with friends
- Choose a variety of activities to prevent boredom and keep your mind and body challenged
- Listen to your body. Consult your physician if you experience chest discomfort, dizziness, severe headache or other unusual symptoms
- Keep an activity log to track your progress. Note when and how long you worked out, what activity you did and how you felt during your workout
- Set both short-term and long-term goals to keep motivated
- Set rewards. Celebrate every success—you earned it
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