How much exercise do you need?Exercising moderately for 30 minutes, five times a week is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule? That’s okay, two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective.
If that still seems like a daunting amount of time to spend exercising, don’t despair. Even just a little physical activity is better than none at all. Try starting by taking a short walk on most days, and gradually build up the length of your sessions from there. It takes about 4 weeks for an activity to become a habit so commit to maintaining your schedule for at least that long. As exercising becomes habit, you can slowly add extra minutes or try different types of activities. If you keep at it, the benefits you experience will begin to mount.
How hard do I need to exercise?Forget “no pain, no gain,” you don’t need to be a fitness fanatic or gym rat to reap the rewards of exercise. Research has shown that mild to moderate activity is enough to change your life for the better. Moderate activity means:
- That you breathe a little heavier than normal, but are not out of breath. For example, you should be able to chat with your walking partner, but not easily sing a song.
- That your body feels warmer as you move, but not overheated or very sweaty.
- Aerobic activities like running, cycling, and swimming strengthen your heart and increase your endurance.
- Strength training like weight lifting or resistance training builds muscle and bone mass, improves balance and prevents falls. It’s one of the best counters to frailty in old age.
- Flexibility exercises like stretching and yoga help prevent injury, enhance range of motion, reduce stiffness, and limit aches and pains.
Easy ways to start exercising tip 1: Move more in your daily lifeIf you're not ready to commit to a structured exercise program, think about physical activity as a lifestyle choice rather than a single task to check off your to-do list. Look at your daily routine and consider ways to sneak in activity here and there. Even very small activities can add up over the course of a day.
- In and around your home. Clean the house, wash the car, tend to the yard and garden, mow the lawn with a push mower, sweep the sidewalk or patio with a broom.
- At work and on the go. Look for ways to walk or cycle more. For example, bike or walk to an appointment rather than drive, banish all elevators and use the stairs, briskly walk to the bus stop then get off one stop early, park at the back of the lot and walk into the store or office, take a vigorous walk during your coffee break. Walk while you’re talking on your cell phone.
- With friends or family. Walk or jog around the soccer field during your kid’s practice, make a neighborhood bike ride part of weekend routine, play tag with your children in the yard or play exercise video games. Walk the dog together as a family, or if you don’t have your own dog, volunteer to walk a dog from a shelter. Organize an office bowling team, take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga with a friend or spouse.