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Be Active Your Way: A Guide for Adults

  • Wondering about how much activity you need each week?
  • Want to get physically active but not sure where to begin?
  • Already started a program and would like tips on how to keep it up or step it up?

Learn how you can fit physical activity into your life—your way. Decide the number of days, types of activities, and times that fit your schedule.
What is physical activity?

Did you know?

  • Some activity is better than none.
  • The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.

Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. Some of your daily life activities—doing active chores around the house, yard work, walking the dog—are examples.

To get the health benefits of physical activity, include activities that make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. These aerobic activities include things like brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming, and playing basketball. Also include strengthening activities to make your muscles stronger, like push-ups and lifting weights.

The good news?

People of all types, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from being physically active. If you have a disability, choose activities in this booklet that work for you. Talk with your health care team about the amount and types of activities that are right for your ability or condition.

Doing More

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.

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.

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.

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