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Exercise and Physical Fitness

Summary

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercise; it is important that you pick the right types for you. Most people benefit from a combination of them:

  • Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.
  • Strength, or resistance training, exercises make your muscles stronger. Some examples are lifting weights and using a resistance band.
  • Balance exercises can make it easier to walk on uneven surfaces and help prevent falls. To improve your balance, try tai chi or exercises like standing on one leg.
  • Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Yoga and doing various stretches can make you more flexible.

Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first. But you can start slowly, and break your exercise time into chunks. Even doing ten minutes at a time is fine. You can work your way up to doing the recommended amount of exercise. How much exercise you need depends on your age and health.

Other things that you can do to make the most of your workouts include

  • Choosing activities that work all the different parts of the body, including your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis). Good core strength improves balance and stability and helps to prevent lower back injury.
  • Choosing activities that you enjoy. It's easier to make exercise a regular part of your life if you have fun doing it.
  • Exercising safely, with proper equipment, to prevent injuries. Also, listen to your body and don't overdo it.
  • Giving yourself goals. The goals should challenge you, but also be realistic. It's also helpful to reward yourself when you reach your goals. The rewards could be something big, like new workout gear, or something smaller, such as movie tickets.

Start Here

  • (Department of Health and Human Services) - PDF
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • Easy-to-Read (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • Easy-to-Read (American Heart Association) - PDF
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Easy-to-Read (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Easy-to-Read (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) - PDF

Related Issues

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Specifics

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Health Check Tools

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Clinical Trials

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Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

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Teenagers

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Women

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