Health Benefits of Physical Activity

A comprehensive physical activity routine includes three kinds of activities: aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility exercises.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate, works your muscles, and raises your breathing rate. For most people, it’s best to aim for a total of about 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.

If you haven’t been very active recently, you can start out with 5 or 10 minutes a day and work up to more time each week. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to exercise more than 30 minutes a day.

Here are some examples of aerobic exercise:

Take a walk (outside or inside on a treadmill);
Take a low-impact aerobics class;
Swim or do water aerobic exercises;
Try ice-skating or roller-skating;
Play tennis or golf;
Stationary bicycle indoors;
Go dancing.

Strength Training

Strength training, done several times a week, helps build strong bones and muscles and makes everyday chores like carrying groceries easier for you. With more muscle, you burn more calories, even at rest.

Here are some ways to do it:

Join a class to do strength training with weights, elastic bands, or plastic tubes;
Lift light weights at home

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises, also called stretching, help keep your joints flexible and reduce your chances of injury during other activities. Gentle stretching for 5 to 10 minutes helps your body warm up and get ready for aerobic activities such as walking or swimming. Your health care team can provide information on how to stretch.

Being Active

In addition to formal exercise, there are many opportunities to be active throughout the day. Being active helps burns calories. The more you move around, the more energy you’ll have.

These strategies can help you increase your activity level:

Walk instead of drive whenever possible;
Take the stairs instead of the elevator;
Work in the garden, rake leaves, or do some housecleaning every day;
Park at the far end of the shopping center lot and walk to the store.