What Individuals Can Do

  • Make activity a daily part of your life.  Find activities that you enjoy that can become a regular part of your routine, and find others to join you.  Partners can make it more fun, can provide encouragement, and help overcome problems of transportation or safety.
  • Consult your clinician about what level of activity is safe and appropriate for you.  Discuss any medical issues that might be interfering with more regular activity and review any symptoms and problems that might affect what activities are safe for you.
  • Set specific activity goals.  Start slowly and build up to increasing levels of activity.  Try to be active for 30 minutes a day on a regular basis.

What Clinicians Can Do

  • Assess how much physical activity your patients are getting and explore reasons that they aren't more active.  A recent study found that only half of all adults were asked about their exercise habits by their healthcare provider.  Older patients were asked less often than younger patients.  Patients who had been asked reported being more active than those who were never asked.
  • The most promising interventions in primary care practices include patient goal setting, written exercise prescriptions, individually tailored physical activity regimens, and mailed or telephone followup.
  • Refer patients to community resources where they can join group activities to promote and reinforce physical activity.

What Communities Can Do

  • Conduct community-wide campaigns that combine highly visible messages to the public, community events, support groups for active persons, and creation of walking trails.
  • Establish community-based programs, such as those that take place at community centers and senior centers, that can provide individually tailored programs for seniors to become more active.  Such groups help members set individual goals; teach participants how to incorporate physical activity into daily routines; provide encouragement, reinforcement, and problem solving; and help sustain progress.
  • Establish community programs that help build social support (at work or in the community) for physical activity.
  • Improve access to places that people can be active, such as walking or bike trails, classes at gyms or senior centers, athletic fields, etc.  A review of 12 studies that created or enhanced access to places for physical activity found, on average, a 25 percent increase in the number of persons exercising at least 3 days per week.
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Originally published by the NIDDK










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