10 Tips for Reaching Physical Activity Goals
Nearly seven out of ten Americans don’t get enough physical activity. Being inactive is more common among women than men, among older adults, and among African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos than Caucasians. Physical inactivity is a risk factor for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Physical activity does not need to be strenuous to bring health benefits. Whether it is a structured exercise program or just part of your daily routine, all exercise adds up to better health. Below are some tips for reaching your physical activity goals.
- If you have not been active for a long time, are overweight, have a high risk of coronary heart disease or some other long-term health problem, see your doctor for medical evaluation before beginning a physical activity program.
- Don't overdo it. Perform low to moderate-level physical activities that get your heart rate up, especially at first. These “aerobic” activities (e.g., brisk walking, jumping rope, stair climbing, jogging or dancing) build endurance and burn calories.
- Slowly increase the duration and intensity of your exercise as you become fit. Over time, work up to 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, at least five days a week. If you can’t dedicate a full 30 minutes to exercise, break your physical activity into three 10-minute intervals.
- Choose activities that are fun, not exhausting. Try using music to keep you motivated and entertained.
- Add variety. Try not to rely too much on one activity. Find several that you enjoy. That way, exercise will never seem boring or routine.
- Wear comfortable, properly fitted footwear and clothing that is appropriate for the weather and the kind of physical activity you choose.
- Find a convenient time and a safe place to get active. Try to make it a habit, but be flexible. If you miss an opportunity, work physical activity into your day another way.
- Try wearing a pedometer, which measures the distance you travel on foot. Set a long-term goal of 10,000 steps a day, or about five miles. Monitor your average number of steps each day and then add several hundred more steps a day each week until you reach your goal.
- Share your physical activity time with others. Make a date with a family member, friend or co-worker to walk or ride bikes. Be an active role model for your children.
- Keep a record of your physical activities and reward yourself. Nothing motivates like success!