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Top 10 Fitness Facts

Some things you should know about exercise

4. It's Not That Hard to Find Time for Fitness

The key, says Atkinson, is to use your time more wisely. Think about killing two birds with one stone.

Take your kids to the park or ride bikes together, and you're getting physical activity while enjoying family time, he says. Beyond that, go for a hike, take the kids swimming, or play hide-and-seek, tag, softball, or horseshoes in the backyard.

At work, he says, schedule a meeting on the jogging track or on the golf course.

Also, forget the idea that you have to trudge to the gym and spend an hour or more doing a formal workout. Instead, you can work short spurts of physical activity into your day.

"Everyone has 20 minutes," Atkinson says. "Everyone has 10 minutes to jump rope, and sometimes that's better than 20 minutes of walking or running."

Indeed, squeezing in two or three bouts of 15 or 20 minutes of activity is just as effective as doing it all at once, says Astorino. Vacuuming the house in the morning, riding bikes in the park with the kids in the afternoon, then taking a brisk walk in the evening can add up to an active day.

Recent U.S. government guidelines say that to lose weight and keep it weight off, you should accumulate at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, says Astorino. But half an hour a day is all you need to reap the health and disease-fighting benefits of exercise.

5. Fitness Can Help Build Relationships

Think of what exercising with a partner can do for a relationship, whether it's with a spouse, a sibling, or a friend you used to go to lunch with once a week.

Not only that, says Astorino, but exercise is always more fun when there's someone to do it with. So plan to walk with your spouse after dinner every night. Meet your sister or that friend for tennis or an aerobics class instead of lunch.

Besides, Astorino says, people who have exercise partners stay with their programs and reach their goals more often than those who try to go it alone.

"For long-term weight loss, you need to have social support," Astorino says.

6. Exercise Helps Ward Off Disease

Research has shown that exercise can slow or help prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis (bone loss), and loss of muscle mass, says Astorino.

It also helps ease some aspects of the aging process.

"Because exercise strengthens the muscles and joints, it is going to reduce your odds of having some of those aches and pains and problems most adults have, mostly because of the inactive lives they lead," Bryant says.

Provided you don't overdo it, he says, exercise can even boost immune function -- so you spend less time down with a cold or flu.

"There isn't a major health problem where exercise cannot have a positive effect," says Byrant.

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