How much exercise do I
to your doctor about how much exercise is right for you. A good goal for many
people is to work up to exercising 4 to 6 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at
a time. Remember, though, that exercise has so many health benefits that any
amount is better than none.
How do I get started?
Sneak exercise into your day
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Go for a walk during your coffee break or lunch.
Walk all or part of the way to work.
Do housework at a fast pace.
Rake leaves or do other yard work.
by talking with your family doctor. This is especially important if you
haven't been active, if you have any health problems or if you're pregnant or
Start out slowly. If you've been inactive for years, you can't run a marathon
after only 2 weeks of training! Begin with a 10-minute period of light
exercise or a brisk walk every day and gradually increase how hard you
exercise and for how long.
are some tips that will help you start and stick with an exercise program:
Choose something you like to do. Make sure it suits you physically, too. For
instance, swimming is easier on arthritic joints.
a partner. Exercising with a friend or relative can make it more fun.
your routine. You may be less likely to get bored or injured if you change
your exercise routine. Walk one day. Bicycle the next. Consider activities
like dancing and racquet sports, and even chores like vacuuming or mowing
Choose a comfortable time of day. Don't work out too soon after eating or
when it's too hot or cold outside. Wait until later in the day if you're too
stiff in the morning.
Don't get discouraged. It can take weeks or months before you notice some of
the changes from exercise, such as weight loss.
Forget "no pain, no gain." While a little soreness is normal after you first
start exercising, pain isn't. Take a break if you hurt or if you are
exercise fun. Read, listen to music or watch TV while riding a stationary
bicycle, for example. Find fun things to do, like taking a walk through the
zoo. Go dancing. Learn how to play a sport you enjoy, such as tennis.
Making exercise a habit
Stick to a regular time every day.
Sign a contract committing yourself to exercise.
Put "exercise appointments" on your calendar.
Keep a daily log or diary of your exercise activities.
Check your progress. Can you walk a certain distance faster now than
when you began exercising? Or is your heart rate slower now?
Ask your doctor to write a prescription for your exercise program, such
as what type of exercise to do, how often to exercise and for how long.
Think about joining a health club. The cost gives some people an
incentive to exercise regularly.
How can I prevent injuries?
every workout with a warm-up. This will make your muscles and joints more
flexible. Spend 5 to 10 minutes doing some light calisthenics and stretching
exercises, and perhaps brisk walking. Do the same thing when you're done
working out until your heart rate returns to normal.
Pay attention to your body. Stop exercising if you feel very out of breath,
dizzy, faint, nauseous or have pain.
Benefits of regular
Reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis,
diabetes and obesity
Keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible, which makes it easier to
Reduces some of the effects of aging
Contributes to your mental well-being and helps treat depression
Helps relieve stress and anxiety
Increases your energy and endurance
Helps you sleep better
Helps you maintain a normal weight by increasing your metabolism (the
rate you burn calories)
What is a target heart
Measuring your heart rate (beats per minute) can tell you how hard your heart
is working. You can check your heart rate by counting your pulse for 15
seconds and multiplying the beats by 4.
The chart to the right shows the target heart rates for people of different
ages. When you're just beginning an exercise program, shoot for the lower
target heart rate (60%). As your fitness improves, you can exercise harder to
get your heart rate closer to the top number (85%).
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is the type that moves large muscle groups and causes you to
breathe more deeply and your heart to work harder to pump blood. It's also
called cardiovascular exercise. It improves the health of your heart and
Examples include walking, jogging, running, aerobic dance, bicycling, rowing,
swimming and cross-country skiing.
What is weight-bearing
term weight-bearing is used to describe exercises that work against the force
of gravity. Weight-bearing exercise is important for building strong bones.
Having strong bones helps prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures later in
Examples of weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging, hiking,
climbing stairs, dancing and weight training.
What about weight training?
training, or strength training, builds strength and muscles. Calisthenics like
push-ups are weight-training exercises too. Lifting weights is a
weight-training exercise. If you have high blood pressure or other health
problems, talk to your family doctor before beginning weight training.
What is the best exercise?
best exercise is the one that you will do on a regular basis. Walking is
considered one of the best choices because it's easy, safe and inexpensive.
Brisk walking can burn as many calories as running, but is less likely than
running or jogging to cause injuries. Walking also doesn't require any
training or special equipment, except for good shoes.
Walking is an aerobic and weight-bearing exercise, so it is good for your
heart and helps prevent osteoporosis.