Everyone needs regular physical activity — regardless of their shape, size, health, or age. Here's what's in it for you:
- Better energy
- Stronger muscles
- Less stress
- Easier weight management
- Less chance of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and other illnesses
Ideas to make it happen
Daily activity: choices, chores, and checkups for every day
- Walk, walk, walk. Look for ways to get in a few short walks during the day. Walk to the library, to work, to school. Remember, even 10 minutes of walking a day helps your fitness.
- Take the stairs. Always. Up and down.
- Park smart. Choose parking spots at the far end of the lot. Return shopping carts at the stand farthest away from your car.
- Do the chores. You'll be less stressed — and have more time — if everyone in the family has a daily chore to do. Your chore list might include vacuuming, sweeping, making beds, doing laundry, washing dishes, or fixing dinner.
- Ride your bike. Ride to school or work. Do your weekend errands on your bike. Bike to the movies, to dinner, to friends' houses.
What's sleep got to do with it?
- Get a dog. Take Spot for long walks twice a day. Throw a ball or Frisbee.
- Stand up while talking on the phone. Better yet, walk around if you have a cordless phone or a cell phone.
- Enlist your family. Adopt an active daily habit that everyone can do. Get a tape or CD, and do aerobics together every morning. Walk each night after dinner. Get a family pass, and hit the swimming pool or recreation center a few times a week.
- Go for 60, every day. You need at least 60 minutes of activity every day. This includes playtime, exercise, just moving around.
- Track it. Start a chart or log to write down how many minutes of physical activity you do each day. Studies show that tracking helps people stay focused on — and reach — their goals.
Aerobic activity & team sports
- Half an hour for your heart. For 20 to 30 minutes every day, do something — anything! — that gets your heart pumping: biking, running, playing tennis or basketball, fast walking, hiking, in-line skating, cross-country skiing, rowing, playing soccer or lacrosse, swimming, dancing, doing aerobics, jumping rope, and so on.
- Gear up for an event. Sign up for a fun run. Get sponsors for a charity bike ride. Enlist your friends for a relay at the county track meet or community picnic. Why? An upcoming event on the calendar might get you moving on those days when the couch looks especially inviting.
- Organize neighborhood activities. Start a running group, or a "walking school bus" with people in your area. Set up backyard games like kick the can, ultimate Frisbee, or tag.
- Schedule a day for an active outing. Once a week, do something active with your family or group of friends. Friday night bowling. Saturday morning hikes. Sunday swims. Mix it up, and keep it fun!
- Join up. Join a sports team, class, or program that meets at least twice a week. Look up your local Parks & Recreation Centers (by city) on the web, or in the front of the White Pages under the government listings. You can also check schools for aftercare programs, health clubs for classes, and yellow pages for listings of lessons and programs.
Flexibility & strength training
- Stretch yourself. Do stretching activities 2 or 3 times a week. Yoga, Pilates, martial arts, dance, and gymnastics all help with flexibility. So do the old favorites like toe touches, lunges, side bends, and wall pushups.
- Reach — don't strain. Start off slowly with each stretch. Don't bounce or push yourself to the point of pain. Be patient! If you keep stretching gently, day by day you'll find your body becoming more flexible, more relaxed.
- Live stronger. Do strength exercises twice a week. Calisthenics — pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, knee bends — are best and easiest for most people.
- Watch your weights. If you want to lift weights, keep them light. Teens and kids shouldn't use heavy weights unless a coach or other trained professional can help them lift safely. Lots of repetitions with light weights is a great way to build strength and boost your heart rate at the same time.