By the time you are in your late 20’s and early 30’s, you have probably figured out whether or not you like to exercise. Some people have been doing the same exercise program for years. Others may have fallen out of the exercise habit or never taken it up in the first place.
All activity counts, so it isn’t just about “exercising.” Taking the stairs, parking your car further from the store, dancing around the house—they all add up in a day. Do at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week.
Don’t know where to begin? Start small.
You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from regular physical activity. Even modest amounts of physical activity can improve your health. Start with small, specific goals such as walking 10 minutes a day three days a week and slowly build up from there. Keep an activity log to track your progress.
Try these activities to add more movement to your daily life:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure the stairs are well lit.
- Get off the bus one stop early if you are in an area safe for walking.
- Park the car farther away from entrances to stores, movie theaters or your home.
- Take a short walk around the block with family, friends or coworkers.
- In bad weather, walk around a mall.
- Rake the leaves or wash the car.
- Take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.
Choose activities that are fun.
People are more likely to be active if they like what they are doing. It also helps to get support from a friend or a family member. Try one of these activities or others you enjoy:
- Brisk walking or jogging
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Aerobic exercise classes
- Dancing (square dance, salsa, African dance, swing, belly dance)
- Basketball or soccer
Strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing push-ups or sit-ups. Besides building stronger muscles, strengthening activities may help you to:
- Use more calories. Not only does the exercise burn calories, but having more muscle means you will burn more calories—even when you are sitting still.
- Reduce injury. Stronger muscles improve balance and support your joints, lowering the risk of injury.
- Maintain strong bones. Doing strengthening exercises regularly helps build bone mass and may prevent bone loss as you age.
Strengthening exercises should focus on working the major muscle groups of the body such as the chest, back and legs. Do exercises for each muscle group two or three times a week. Allow at least one day of rest for your muscles to recover and rebuild before another strengthening workout. (It is safe to do aerobic activity every day.)