Part 2. Making Physical Activity a Part of Your Life

Doing More

"I started taking a 45-minute water aerobics class with a group of women from church. It's really a lot of fun, and I am getting in shape. I started out going 2 days a week, and now my goal is to make it to all 3 classes a week."

Congratulations! You are doing some regular physical activity each week and are ready to do more. You may be feeling the benefits of getting active, such as having fun with friends, sleeping better, and getting toned. Are you looking for ways to do more activities at a moderate level?

Here are 2 examples for adding more activity

  1. You can do more by being active longer each time. Walking for 30 minutes, 3 times a week? Go longer—walk for 50 minutes, 3 times a week.
  2. You can do more, by being active more often. Are you biking lightly 3 days a week for 25 minutes each time? Increase the number of days you bike. Work up to riding 6 days a week for 25 minutes each time.

Tip: If you have not been this active in the past, work your way up. In time, replace some moderate activities with vigorous activities that take more effort. These are explained in detail in Part 3.

Activities for stronger muscles and bones

Advice to follow:

Adults should do activities to strengthen muscles and bones at least 2 days a week.

Choose activities that work all the different parts of the body—your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Exercises for each muscle group should be repeated 8 to 12 times per session.

Try some of these activities a couple of days a week:

  • Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
  • Lifting weights
  • Push-ups on the floor or against the wall
  • Sit-ups
  • Working with resistance bands (long, wide rubber strips that stretch)

Tip: Some people like resistance bands because they find them easy to use and put away when they are done. Others prefer weights; you can use common grocery items, such as bags of rice, vegetable or soup cans, or bottled water.

For best success

  • Team up with a friend. It will keep you motivated and be more fun.
  • Pick activities that you like to do.
  • Track your time and progress. It helps you stay on course. Fill in these forms to help set your activity goals. Before you know it, you'll be able to do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of activities at a moderate level each week.
  • Add in more strength-building activities over time. For example, you can do sit-ups or push-ups.

Shaping up

"My son and I play in a baseball league twice a week. On the days we play, I sleep much better at night. This makes me want to do more on other days. My son wants to lift weights together, and so we got some weights and work out in the basement."

Planning your activity for the week

Physical activity experts say that spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, do each activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. There are many ways to fit in 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. For example, you can do 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, for 5 days.

On the other 2 days, do activities to keep your muscles strong. Find ways that work well for you.

Want to learn more about how to add physical activity to your life?

  • Join a fitness group.
  • Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.
  • Speak to the worksite wellness coordinator at your job.
  • Visit www.healthfinder.gov and type "activity" in the search box.

Tip: To learn how to avoid injury, see these tips.

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