Fitness: Getting and Staying Active - What Does "Being Active" Really Mean?
Being active means allowing your body to "practice" breathing,
stretching, and lifting. The more practice your body gets, the better it
Think about doing things in three
- Aerobic activity, like walking,
riding a bike, or swimming. This helps your heart, lungs, and muscle tone.
- Muscle strength and endurance,
resistance training. This helps build strong bones and
for flexibility and balance. Do all stretches gradually. Don't push or bounce
the stretch. You should feel a stretch, not pain.
Aerobic activity makes your heart and lungs work harder and builds up
your endurance. It gets more oxygen to your muscles, which allows
your muscles to work longer.
Regular aerobic activity lowers your risk for heart disease,
diabetes, and some cancers. It helps you stay at a healthy weight. It can help
you deal with stress and sleep better.
To get and stay
healthy, experts say to do either of
- Moderate aerobic
activity for at least 2� hours a week.
Moderate activity means things
like brisk walking, brisk
cycling, or shooting baskets. You
notice your heart beating faster with this kind of activity.
- Vigorous aerobic
activity for at least 1� hours a week.
Vigorous activity means things
like jogging, cycling fast, cross-country
skiing, or playing a basketball game. You breathe harder
and your heart beats much faster with this kind of activity.
You can choose to do one or both types of
activity. And it's fine to be active in several blocks of 10 minutes
or more throughout your day and week. Do what works best for you. For
example, you could do moderate activity for 45 minutes every other day. Or you could do 10 minutes 3 times a day, 5 days a
Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but
it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before becoming more active.
How hard to
Here's an easy way to
know if you're working hard enough to get the health benefits of
- If you can't talk and do your activity at
the same time, you are exercising too hard.
- If you can sing while you do your activity,
you may not be working hard enough.
- If you can talk but can't sing while you do your activity,
you are doing fine.
One way to know how hard you should exercise is
to find your
target heart rate. Being active within the range of
your target heart rate not only helps you keep your heart and lungs healthy but
also helps you get or stay fit. As a guideline, use the
Interactive Tool: What Is Your Target Heart Rate? and learn to take your pulse .
If you have a health problem that keeps you
from being as active as experts recommend, aerobic activity can still help you
be healthier. Talk to your doctor about what activities you can
- Fitness: Choosing Activities That Are Right For You
- Planning to Be More Active When You Have Chronic Disease(What is a PDF document?)