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Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on July 15, 2014


Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition, WebMD Moderator, Michelle Obama - First Lady, Hansa Bhargava, MD - WebMD Medical Expert, Pediatrics, Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD - Nutrition consultant and author, Jim Kauffman - National Director for Health and Well-being, YMCA of the USA

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Vicky on WebMD would like to know, Mrs. Obama, "How often do you work out and what is your favorite type of workout?"

Well, I work out every day. If I'm traveling, I couldn't work out this morning, but you know, that's why I work out whenever I can

all the time because I never know when that, I'm going to wake up, go to bed late, and I'm just tired and I need the rest.

So I also have to listen to my body if I'm not feeling well. But the president and I work out every single day,

and you know, what do I like to do? OK. Well, hula hoop, yeah, hula hooping is fun, but you know, we mix it up.

I mean everything from cardio to a little kickboxing, which lets out a little steam, some Pilates every now and then, stretching.

That's one thing, now that I'm 48 years old, it's to prevent injuries, it's really important for us to stay limber.

So you know, we try to do a little bit of everything. The president plays basketball. I like to play tennis. Sasha plays basketball. Malia plays tennis.

So we each have something we can do with the girls. Riding bikes when we can, when we can sneak off and nobody can see us, we'll get on our bikes and we'll go.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it works. So we just try to mix it up. I did a Zumba class over vacation that was a ton of fun. Lots of aerobics and good dancing, good music, you know.

So the important thing is for people to find the thing that they love, especially when you're starting out. What's the thing that you think you can do?

If you like music, then go with the dancing. Step class is good music, you know, good beat that gets you going and keeps you going.

So it doesn't have to be, you know, something specific. It should be what you enjoy to start out with, and you know, then it grows from there.

I like the idea of mixing it up, and you also talked about having fun when you're moving, too. So, Jim, I just wanted you to address that.

What do you think about mixing up different types of activities?

Well, physiologically, it is the best thing to do is to mix things up.

Your body will adapt to whatever you're doing, so you do want to mix up what you're doing so that your body is always guessing what's next,

and as a result, it will start to rebuild itself in places, so that's good. And what we also know is that variety is a big key.

There's some rare people that will want to go to the same exercise class or the do the same workout time and time and time again. I couldn't do that, myself.

I would get bored after a while, and boredom is what we don't want to have.

So the variety is very, very key to have a whole slew of different things that you can do.

You know, and that's why, if you look at a YMCA, for example, you can come into a Y and you can see every different kind of exercise class that you can ever imagine,

along with all kinds of equipment, and that's really fun. And to be able to go from one piece to the next and try something else.

And what I would also say is don't hesitate. If somebody gives you an invitation to try something new, regardless of what age you are, say yes.

Try something different in the way of activity. And again, realize you don't have to go in and do an hour of it.

Even if you go in and do five minutes of it, you tried it. You'll start to see "I do like this" or "I don't like this," and you just keep looking for the variety.

What are some easy ways to get the exercise I need? And we've talked about it several times already, break it up into chunks during the day,

but can you give us some specifics? What exactly?

Well, my recommendation would be not to look at just exercise, but look at physical activity.

Look at the little things that you might be able to incorporate into your every day.

If you work in an office building that has an elevator, how about if you get off the elevator two floors before yours and walk up the stairs for the last two floors.

And maybe walk down those. Rely less on the electronics, more on your own power.

I would also say that to look at the rituals that you have in your life, that if you're in front of the sink washing dishes,

there isn't anything that says you can't do one or two or three or five little bit of knee bends. That's a time it just gets you moving, gets you a little bit more active.

One other thing that I know has worked for some people. They were just starting out in physical activity and I said,

"Tonight, and every other night, pick two commercials while you're watching television and get up and move for just 30 seconds."

And their response was, "Just 30 seconds?" I said, "Yeah, that's all I want you to do, just 30 seconds."

And they came back and they said, "Well, I did those, but I wanted to do more." All right. You see what the secret is there.

It's incorporating those little things, and all of a sudden you can add up to that 60 minutes that you're looking for.

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