home   You need to exercise for about 60 minutes every day. Setting aside 60 minutes all at once each day is one way to get in enough exercise. If you wait until the end of the day to squeeze it in, you probably wonít exercise enough or at all. If youíre not active for 60 minutes straight, itís okay to exercise for 10 or 20 minutes at a time throughout the day.

Different exercises

No matter what your shape Ė apple, pear, ruler, or hourglass Ė there's an exercise for you!

  • Pick exercises you like to do and choose a few different options so you donít get bored.
  • Aim to exercise most days of the week. If youíre not very active right now, start slowly and work your way up to being active every day.

There are three levels of physical activity.

  • Light Ė not sweating; not breathing hard (slow walking, dancing)
  • Moderate Ė breaking a sweat; can talk but canít sing (walking fast, dancing)
  • Vigorous Ė sweating, breathing hard, canít talk or sing (running, swimming laps)

No matter what level you are exercising at, the activity can be one of two types.

Exercise Type
What is it?
Why do it?
Resistance exercise (2 or more days each week) Weight-training using weight machines and resistance bands, or doing push-ups
  • Increases strength
  • Builds muscles
Weight-bearing exercise Walking, running, hiking, dancing, gymnastics, soccer, and other activities that work bones and muscles against gravity.
  • Makes bones stronger


What kind of exercise does your body need?

Your exercise should increase your heart rate and move the muscles in your body. Swimming, dancing, skating, playing soccer, or riding a bike are all examples of exercise that does these things.

Looking at fitness and your body closer up, your exercise should include something from each of these four basic fitness areas:

Cardio-respiratory endurance is the same thing as aerobic endurance. It is the ability to exercise your heart and lungs nonstop over certain time periods. When you exercise, your heart beats faster, sending more needed oxygen to your body. If you are not fit, your heart and lungs have to work harder during exercise. Long runs and swims are examples of activities that can help your heart and lungs work better.
Muscular strength is the ability to move a muscle against resistance. To become stronger, you need to push or pull against resistance, such as your own weight (like in push-ups), using free weights (note: talk to an instructor before using weights), or even pushing the vacuum cleaner. Regular exercise keeps all of your muscles strong and makes it easier to do daily physical tasks.
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to keep pushing against resistance for a long period. Push-ups are often used to test endurance of arm and shoulder muscles. Aerobic exercise also helps to improve your muscular endurance. Activities such as running increase your heart rate and make your heart muscle stronger.
Flexibility is the ability to move joints and use muscles as much as they can possibly be used. The sit-and-reach your toes test is a good measure of flexibility of the lower back and backs of the upper legs. When you are flexible, you are able to bend and reach with ease. Being flexible can help prevent injuries like pulled muscles. This is why warming up and stretching are so important. If you force your body to move in a way that you arenít used to, you risk tearing muscles, as well as ligaments and tendons (other parts of your musculoskeletal system).


Exercise Muscles Worked
Push-ups Chest, shoulders, arms, abdominals
Sit-ups Abdominals
Jumping Jacks Calves (lower leg), inner/outer thigh, butt
Running Calves, front/back thigh
Jumping rope Calves, thighs, abdominals, shoulders, arms
Swimming Nearly all major muscles
Dancing Nearly all major muscles (depending on type of dance)
Walking Arms, calves, front/back thigh, abdominals
Squats Calves, front/back thigh, butt
Inline Skating Inner/outer thigh, butt
Hula Hoop Lower back, abdominals

SOURCE: American Council on Exercise

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Originally published by the US Department of Health and Human Services










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