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It's best to increase your activity in all three areas of fitness: flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle fitness. You can work on all three areas without leaving home.

Flexibility and stretching

Flexibility is the ability to move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. Stretching is an activity that helps you to be more flexible. It's also something you can easily do at home.

Stretching at home
  • Warm up your muscles slightly before you stretch them. Walk or do some other light aerobic exercise for a few minutes, and then start stretching.
  • Ease yourself into the stretch, relax, and don't push or bounce. You should feel a stretch, but not pain, in the muscle.
  • Exhale as you do the stretch. While you hold the stretch, inhale deeply.
  • Try closing your eyes while you stretch. It helps you relax.
  • Take a moment to enjoy the good, warm feeling that comes after a good stretch.

Exercise DVDs can teach you more about stretching various muscles.

Aerobic fitness (endurance)

Aerobic fitness means increasing how well your body uses oxygen. Look for activities that make your heart beat faster and make you breathe harder.

Experts suggest that you do at least 2½ hours of moderate activity a week or at least 1¼ hours of vigorous activity a week. It's fine to do blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.

Aerobic activities you can do from home
Moderate Vigorous
  • Take a brisk walk.
  • Ride a stationary bike about 10 to 12 miles per hour.
  • Push a lawn mower.
  • Vacuum.
  • Sweep, perhaps to lively music.
  • Rake leaves or shovel snow.
  • Dance.
  • Play actively with your children.
  • Jog or run.
  • Ride a stationary bike at least 12 miles per hour.
  • Play a basketball game in the driveway.
  • Use an aerobic dance DVD.
  • Jump rope.
  • Use a stair-climber or skiing machine.

Muscle fitness (strength)

Muscle fitness means building stronger muscles and increasing how long you can use them. You can strengthen a muscle by doing any activity that pushes or pulls against that muscle.

Experts say that you should work on strengthening your muscles at least 2 times a week. Focus on the large muscle groups in your arms, legs, back, chest, and core.

Strengthening your muscles at home
  • Do familiar exercises, like push-ups and leg lifts.
  • Use rubber tubing or stretchable bands to add resistance as your muscles work against the elastic.
  • Use free weights ("dumbbells") or a weight-training machine. If you don't have free weights, you can lift soup cans, water bottles, or books.
  • Do housework and yard work, such as scrubbing the bathtub, washing walls, tilling the garden, or pulling weeds, on a regular basis.
  • Strengthen your core. Pull in your belly. Imagine pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax. Breathe normally as you hold the muscle tight. Repeat. You can do this exercise anywhere, in any position.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 26, 2013
    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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