Tips for Starting Physical Activity
January 06, 2019
How much and what kinds of physical activity do I need?
Some physical activity is better than none. You can start slowly and build up from there. Try to make aerobic and strengthening activities part of your regular routine. If you have a disability that keeps you from some activities, talk with your healthcare professional about types of physical activity that might work well with your abilities. If you have a health problem such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, ask your health care professional about the types and amounts of physical activity that may work for you.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days
Walking fast, jogging, dancing, or other types of aerobic activities make your heart beat faster and may cause you to breathe harder. Try to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time without breaks. You can count each 10-minute segment of activity toward your physical activity goal. Aerobic activities
- Biking (don’t forget the helmet)
- Brisk walking
- Wheeling yourself in a wheelchair or engaging in activities that will support you, such as chair aerobics
Try to do aerobic activities at a moderate intensity. Do the “talk test” to make sure you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain. You should be able to speak a few words in a row, but you should not be able to sing.
Aim for 60 to 90 minutes per day to gain more benefits
You may need more than 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days or if your goal is to lose weight or to keep it off. Adding a brisk walk after lunch, dinner, or when your schedule permits may be one way to boost the amount of aerobic activity in your life.
Do strengthening activities twice per week
Activities that make you push or pull against something may improve your strength and balance.
Build and maintain bone and muscle strength.
To help strengthen your whole body, work all major muscle groups, including those in your legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Doing two to three sets for each muscle group twice per week may help. Even one set of strength training offers benefits.
Try different activities to find ones you enjoy and to work different parts of your body:
Improve your balance
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
Activities that build strength in your lower body may improve your balance. Try activities that work your ankles, feet, and lower legs.
Pilates and yoga may improve balance, muscle strength, and flexibility. You can also try tai chi or practice standing on one leg, if you are able to do so.
Take breaks from being still
Recent studies suggest that long periods of inactivity may be linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Add motion to your day. Download an app to your phone, computer, or other device to remind yourself to take breaks. Routine tasks such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and yard work can also be part of your physical activity plan.
How can I overcome physical activity roadblocks?
Starting a physical activity program and sticking with it may be easier than you think. You can overcome these common roadblocks to physical activity.
I don’t have time
Are work, family, and other demands making it hard to be active? Try the tips below for adding physical activity to your daily routine.
Remember, every little bit counts.
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- Do 10 minutes of physical activity at a time. Spread bursts of activity throughout your day.
- Add a 15-minute walk or activity that you will stick with during your lunch break or after dinner.
- Make activity part of your daily routine. If it is safe and you have time, walk a flight of stairs or, instead of driving, walk or bike with your child to school. If you have a physical disability, you can also use aids to build activity into your daily routine.