Regular activity makes you healthier
Physical activity is key to improving your health and preventing serious illness. Experts say to do either of these things to get and stay healthy:2
- Moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or shooting baskets. But any activities—including daily chores—that raise your heart rate can be included. You notice your heart beating faster with this kind of activity.
- Vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week. Vigorous activity means things like jogging, cycling fast, or cross-country skiing. You breathe rapidly and your heart beats much faster with this kind of activity.
Being active in several blocks of 10-minutes or more throughout the day can count toward these recommendations. You can choose to do one or both types of activity.
If you're not active right now, you don't have to start out at this level. Instead, start small and build up over time. Moderate activity is safe for most people. But it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
Regular moderate-intensity physical activity lowers your risk of:3
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Breast cancer, colon cancer, and cancers of the female reproductive system.
Work activity into your daily life
Brushing your teeth and getting dressed are regular parts of your day, right? You hardly think about it.
It can be that way with physical activity too. With practice and repetition, you can make activity—whether it's formal exercise or an activity like gardening or walking the dog—so routine that it becomes something you just do because it's part of your day and you enjoy it.
Like any lifestyle change, changing your activity level may be easier if you have a plan. Set small goals. Be creative. For more information, see Getting to a Healthy Weight: Making Lifestyle Changes.