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How to Increase Your Level of Physical Activity
Getting regular physical activity is important for your overall health and well-being. Most people do not get enough exercise. There are easy ways to increase your level of physical activity, even if you have not been very active in the past or you are just starting out.
Why is physical activity important?
Physical activity has many short-term and long-term health benefits. Regular exercise can:
- Help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Strengthen your muscles and bones.
- Boost your mood and improve self-esteem.
- Reduce your risk of certain long-term (chronic) diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Help you stay capable of walking and moving around (mobile) as you age.
- Prevent accidents, such as falls, as you age.
- Increase life expectancy.
What are the benefits of being physically active on a regular basis?
In addition to improving your physical health, being physically active on most days of the week can help you in ways that you may not expect. Benefits of regular physical activity may include:
- Feeling good about your body.
- Being able to move around more easily and for longer periods of time without getting tired (increased stamina).
- Finding new sources of fun and enjoyment.
- Meeting new people who share a common interest.
- Being able to fight off illness better (enhanced immunity).
- Being able to sleep better.
What can happen if I am not physically active on a regular basis?
Not getting enough physical activity can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and future health problems. This can increase your chances of:
- Becoming overweight or obese.
- Becoming sick.
- Developing chronic illnesses, like heart disease or diabetes.
- Having mental health problems, like depression or anxiety.
- Having sleep problems.
- Having trouble walking or getting yourself around (reduced mobility).
- Injuring yourself in a fall as you get older.
What steps can I take to be more physically active?
- Check with your health care provider about how to get started. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.
- Start out slowly. Walking or doing some simple chair exercises is a good place to start, especially if you have not been active before or for a long time.
- Try to find activities that you enjoy. You are more likely to commit to an exercise routine if it does not feel like a chore.
- If you have bone or joint problems, choose low-impact exercises, like walking or swimming.
- Include physical activity in your everyday routine.
- Invite friends or family members to exercise with you. This also will help you commit to your workout plan.
- Set goals that you can work toward.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include walking or riding a bike.
Seek Additional Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/index.html
- President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition www.fitness.gov/resource-center
- ChooseMyPlate: www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity
Contact a health care provider if:
- You have headaches, muscle aches, or joint pain.
- You feel dizzy or light-headed while exercising.
- You faint.
- You have chest pain while exercising.
- Exercise benefits your mind and body at any age, even if you are just starting out.
- If you have a chronic illness or have not been active for a while, check with your health care provider before increasing your physical activity.
- Choose activities that are safe and enjoyable for you. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.
- Start slowly. Tell your health care provider if you have problems as you start to increase your activity level.