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Exercise and Physical Activity Ideas

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Topic Overview

Aerobic activity raises your heart rate and keeps it up for a while. This increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your heart and muscles. Over time, this kind of activity benefits your heart, your muscles, your mood and self-esteem, and your amount of energy. It can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, body fat, anxiety and depression, and fatigue.

Finding the right activity

Experts say to do regular moderate activity and/or vigorous-intensity activity.

Here are some ideas for both types of activities. You can boost many of the moderate activities in the left column to a vigorous level by doing them faster or harder.1

Moderate intensity

Vigorous intensity

General exercise:

  • Brisk walking
  • Light to moderate calisthenics (for example, home exercises, back exercises, getting up and down from the floor)
  • Low-impact aerobic dancing
  • Jogging on a small trampoline
  • Weight lifting, body building, using a lot of effort
  • Light to moderate workouts on gym equipment like Nautilus or Universal machines or a rowing machine

General exercise:

  • Walking uphill, jogging or running
  • Heavy calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.)
  • High impact aerobic dancing
  • Jumping rope
  • Using a stair-climber or skiing machine
  • Stationary bicycling, with vigorous effort

Water exercises:

  • Treading water with moderate effort
  • Water aerobics or water calisthenics
  • Kayaking, canoeing, white-water rafting
  • Springboard or platform diving
  • Paddle boating

Water exercises:

  • Swimming laps with fast, vigorous effort
  • Treading water with fast, vigorous effort
  • Water jogging
  • Rowing a canoe in competition
  • Skin diving and scuba diving

Outdoor activities:

  • Fishing and hunting
  • Playing with a Frisbee
  • Children's games, like hopscotch, 4-square, and dodge ball
  • Playing on playground equipment
  • Downhill skiing
  • Shoveling snow

Outdoor activities:

  • Horseback riding—trotting or galloping
  • Competitive sports like rugby, field hockey, and soccer
  • Hiking with a backpack
  • Mountain biking
  • Ice skating quickly (more than 9 mph)
  • Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing

House and yard work:

  • Sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping floors
  • Washing the car with vigorous effort
  • Sweeping the garage, sidewalk, or patio
  • Washing the dog
  • Mowing or raking the lawn
  • Digging in the garden

House and yard work:

  • Carrying groceries upstairs
  • Carrying boxes or furniture
  • Baling hay or cleaning the barn with vigorous effort

Adding variety to a fitness program is a good way to keep motivated.

  • Vary the activity. If you are getting bored with walking, try swimming or an aerobics class.
  • Vary the place. Try a new route for walking or biking or even a different room for your exercises or stretching. By having several options, you can pick one that suits your mood or schedule.
  • Vary the time. Do your exercises at different times and for different amounts of time. If you become bored with your noon walk, try exercising in the early morning or after work or school. Instead of doing one 45-minute session, do three 15-minute sessions.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 26, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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