Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Taking the First Step Toward Fitness.


WebMD Health News

June 12, 2000 -- With her wedding quickly approaching, Julie, a 30-year-old New York advertising executive, is eager to maintain a regular exercise routine so she can look as good as possible on her special day.

"I am trying to walk or run four times a week, averaging about three or four miles per session, and I try to use the free weights for my arms on occasion," she tells WebMD. While she is making strides, it's not easy, she says.

"My problem is motivation, because I don't find exercise to be particularly inspiring," says Julie, who spoke on condition that her full name not be used. "Exercise is ultimately a routine. Routines are boring."

In addition to the boost it can give your looks, the health benefits of regular exercise include protection against heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and the brittle-bone disease osteoporosis, as well as increases in mood and self-esteem. Yet more than 60% of American adults do not get the recommended amount: 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.

The reason? It may be as simple as taking that first step. Most experts agree that getting started is the hardest part of establishing a regular exercise routine.

"All of America can do some exercise if all of America wants to do it," Gerald F. Fletcher, MD, a cardiologist at Mayo Medical School at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., tells WebMD. "You've got to make up your mind to do it and overcome all the inconveniences and all of your rationalizations."

Here's how most inactive Americans can start getting physical, says Fletcher, who is also a spokesman for the American Heart Association: "Most of America - meaning most adults age 18 and older - should start by walking properly. Thirty minutes a day, six days a week, is ideal."

Those 30 minutes don't have to be all at once, either. "You can get up in the morning and walk 15 minutes, then walk a little at lunch, and then a little in the afternoon," Fletcher says. He advises walkers to buy quality, brand-name shoes, not discount brands.

"If you have two or more risk factors for heart disease -- such as having high blood pressure levels, high cholesterol levels, are a smoker, or have a strong family history of heart disease -- then see a doctor for a physical and possibly an exercise test before beginning any exercise regimen," he says. "But generally, for low level walking in moderation, you don't need to see a doctor."

According to the Chicago-based American Medical Association, if a person weighing 200 pounds adds a daily brisk walk of 1.5 miles while consuming the same amount of calories as usual, he or she will lose 14 pounds in a year.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article