May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month to raise awareness of the importance of active living. Physical activity is for everyone. No matter what shape you are in, you can find activities that work for you. Together, we can rise to the challenge and become more active during the month of May and beyond! Some activity is better than none. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.
The physical activity guidelines recommend that adults:
- Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, or swimming.
- Do muscle strengthening activities like lifting weights or using exercise bands at least 2 days a week.1
If you haven’t been active before, start at a comfortable level. Once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time. Then try getting active more often.
What kinds of activity should I do?
To get all the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
- Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and cause your heart to beat faster. Walking fast is an example of aerobic activity.
- Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. Muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups.
Did you know?
When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:
- Get heart disease
- Get type 2 diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high blood cholesterol
- Have a stroke
Build up over time
Start by doing what you can, and then look for ways to do more. If you have not been active for a while, start out slowly. After several weeks or months, build up your activities—do them longer and more often.
Walking is one way to add physical activity to your life. When you first start, walk 10 minutes a day on a few days during the first couple of weeks. Add more time and days. Walk a little longer. Try 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes. Then walk on more days a week.
Pick up the pace. Once this is easy to do, try walking faster. Keep up your brisk walking for a couple of months. You might want to add biking on the weekends for variety.
Do it your way
Pick an activity you like and one that fits into your life.
- Find the time that works best for you.
- Be active with friends and family. Having a support network can help you keep up with your program.
- There are many ways to build the right amount of activity into your life. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.
Make physical activity a part of your life
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. Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.
Keep it up, step it up
- To get more health benefits, add more time of aerobic physical activity.
- Try to move from 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-level activities a week to 5 hours or more a week.
To learn more, visit www.healthfinder.gov and type “activity” in the search box.
Download a FREE My Drive to Exercise Worksheet to help get you going to exercise. Identify the benefits you hope to achieve from active living as well as any potential roadblocks.