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Physical activity

Fitness recommendations; Exercise - physical activity

Physical activity -- which includes an active lifestyle and routine exercise -- plus eating well, is the best way to stay healthy.

Fitness Facts and Fiction

  • Which of the following is a benefit of regular exercise?

     

    A. Better control of your weight and appetite

     

    B. Better fitness, so it’s easier to do everyday activities

     

    C. Better sleep

     

    D. Less stress and anxiety

     

    E. Lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure

     

    F. All of the above

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is all of the above. Getting regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit. Exercise helps your body work better. It can also make you look better, feel better, and even live longer.
  • How much daily exercise do children need?

     

    A. 15 minutes

     

    B. 30 minutes

     

    C. 45 minutes

     

    D. 60 minutes

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is 60 minutes. Even children who prefer staying inside and playing video games can learn to be active during the day. They can ride their bike to school, play active computer games, or help out with chores around the house.
  • Kids are more likely to exercise if their parents are active too.

     

    A. Fact

     

    B. Fiction

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is fact. When you are active, your child will be too. Take walks before dinner, play hoops, or throw a baseball. Encourage your child to join a sports team. Some kids prefer team sports like soccer, and others prefer sports like swimming or tennis. Let your child choose.
  • Regular exercise is good for your bones.

     

    A. Fact

     

    B. Fiction

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is fact. Doing exercises that put weight on your bones will help keep them strong and lower your risk of bone loss and breaks as you get older. Walking and strength training are good options. If you are older, haven't been active, or have a health problem, talk with your doctor before starting to exercise.
  • Exercise can help you fight infections by:

     

    A. Making you more confident

     

    B. Making immune system stronger

     

    C. Making you feel like nothing can hurt you

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is making your immune system stronger. Exercise helps your immune system fight off infections from bacteria and viruses. It also lowers your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.
  • Weight or strength training can build muscle and improve strength at any age.

     

    A. Fact

     

    B. Fiction

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is fact. Doing weight or strength training will build your muscles and make you stronger. Even older adults can gain strength from these exercises. Use weights, resistance bands, or machines at a gym. Start slow, and work up to two 30-minute sessions every week.
  • This is an important part of an exercise program:

     

    A. Warming up and cooling down

     

    B. Choosing the right gym

     

    C. Push-ups and sit-ups

     

    D. Stretching

     

    E. A and D

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is warming up and cooling down and stretching. Warm up your muscles and joints with gentle, full-body movements for 5 to 10 minutes before exercising. This can help prevent injury. Cool down by walking slowly then stretching muscles to help prevent muscle strains after exercise.
  • Some exercises can make you less likely to fall.

     

    A. Fact

     

    B. Fiction

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is fact. Exercises that improve balance make you stronger, more flexible, and increase how long you can be active. One simple example is to stand on one foot while waiting in line. Or sit down and stand up without using your hands. Tai Chi and yoga can also help you develop balance.
  • Which of the following can help prevent sports injuries?

     

    A. Wearing safety gear

     

    B. Cross-training

     

    C. Slowly increasing how long and how hard you exercise

     

    D. Warming up and cooling down

     

    E. All of the above

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is all of the above. But if you do get hurt, stop playing. Never try to “work through” the pain because this can cause more damage. Minor aches and pains you can treat yourself at home. More serious injuries should be treated by a doctor right away.
  • Some people just don’t have time to be physically active.

     

    A. Fact

     

    B. Fiction

    Correct Answer
    The correct answer is fiction. Being more active takes effort, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Break 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions and work it into your schedule. Plan to exercise during the time of day you like best, before work, at lunch, or in the evening. Or, build it into your commute. Find what works best for you.

Information

An effective exercise program needs to be fun and keep you motivated. It helps to have a goal.

Your goal might be to:

  • Manage a health condition
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your stamina
  • Buy clothes in a smaller size

Your exercise program can also be a good way for you to socialize. Taking exercise classes or exercising with a friend are both good ways to be social.

You may have a hard time starting an exercise routine, but once you do start, you may begin to notice other benefits, such as:

  • Better control of your weight and appetite
  • Improved fitness, making it easier to do everyday activities
  • Improved sleep
  • More confidence in yourself
  • Lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure

GETTING STARTED

You do not need to join a gym to exercise. If you have not exercised or been active in a long time, start slowly to prevent injuries. Taking a brisk 10-minute walk twice a week is a good start.

Try joining a dance, yoga, or karate class if it appeals to you. You could also join a baseball or bowling team, or even a mall-walking group. The social aspects of these groups can be rewarding and motivating.

The most important thing is to do exercises that you can maintain and enjoy.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Talk with your health care provider before starting an exercise program if:

  • You have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or another long-term illness
  • You are obese
  • You have not been very active lately
  • You get chest pains or shortness of breath when you are active 

BUILD PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INTO YOUR REGULAR ROUTINE 

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference over time.

  • At work, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking down the hall to talk with a co-worker instead of sending an email, or adding a 10- to 20-minute walk during lunch.
  • When you are running errands, try parking at the far end of the parking lot or down the street. Even better, walk to the store or other nearby places.
  • At home, do chores such as vacuuming, washing the car, gardening, raking leaves, or shoveling snow.
  • If you ride the bus or other public transportation, get off 1 stop before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way.

REDUCE YOUR SCREEN TIME

Sedentary behaviors are things you do while you are sitting still. Decreasing your sedentary behaviors can help you lose weight. For most people, the best way to decrease sedentary behaviors is to reduce the time they spend watching TV and using a computer and other electronic devices. All of these activities are called "screen time."

Some ways to decrease screen time are:

  • Choose 1 or 2 TV programs to watch, and turn off the TV when they are over.
  • Do not keep the TV on all the time for background noise -- you might end up sitting down and watching it. Turn on the radio instead. You can be up doing things around the house and still listen to the radio.
  • Do not eat while you watch TV.
  • Take the batteries out of your TV remote control and get up to change the channel.
  • Before you turn on the TV, take your dog or a neighbor's dog for a walk. If you are going to miss your favorite show, record it.
  • Find activities to replace TV watching. Read a book, play a board game with family or friends, or take an evening cooking class.
  • Work out on an exercise or yoga ball while you watch TV. You will burn calories. Or, set up a stationary bike or treadmill in front of your TV and use it while you watch.

If you like playing video games, try games that require you to move your whole body, not just your thumbs.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO YOU NEED?

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get a total of 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous activity. You could also meet this recommendation with an equivalent amount of combined moderate and intense activity. Muscle strengthening, also called strength training, resistance training, or endurance exercise, should also be done 2 or more days a week.

As you become more fit, you can challenge yourself by increasing the intensity of your exercise by going from light to moderate activity. You can also increase the amount of time you exercise.

References

Buchner DM, Kraus WE. Physical activity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 13.

Piercy KL, Troiano RP, Ballard RM, et al. The Physical activity guidelines for Americans. JAMA. 2018;320(19):2020-2028. PMID: 30418471 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30418471.

Ridker PM, Libby P, Buring JE. Risk markers and the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann, DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 45.

  • Exercise can lower blood pressure

    Exercise can lower blood pressure - illustration

    Reducing your weight by just 10 pounds may be enough to lower your blood pressure. Losing weight can help to enhance the effects of high blood pressure medicine and may also reduce other risk factors, such as diabetes and high bad cholesterol.

    Exercise can lower blood pressure

    illustration

  • Aerobic exercise

    Aerobic exercise - illustration

    Aerobic exercise gets the heart working to pump blood through the heart more quickly and with more force than normal. As blood is pumped faster, it must be oxygenated more quickly, which quickens respiration. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and boosts healthy cholesterol levels. Low impact aerobics include walking and swimming. Running, tennis and dance are high impact aerobics. 

    Aerobic exercise

    illustration

  • Benefit of regular exercise

    Benefit of regular exercise - illustration

    Physical activity contributes to health by reducing the heart rate, decreasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and reducing the amount of bone loss that is associated with age and osteoporosis. Physical activity also helps the body use calories more efficiently, thereby helping in weight loss and maintenance. It can also increase basal metabolic rate, reduces appetite, and helps in the reduction of body fat.

    Benefit of regular exercise

    illustration

  • Isometric exercise

    Isometric exercise - illustration

    Isometric exercise works muscles and strengthens bone. Increased muscle mass elevates metabolism, which in turn burns fat. Strength training is also called anaerobic exercise, as opposed to aerobic, because increased oxygen production is not required.

    Isometric exercise

    illustration

  • Exercise and age

    Exercise and age - illustration

    Exercise can help older people feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think they are too old or too out of shape.

    Exercise and age

    illustration

  • Exercise with friends

    Exercise with friends - illustration

    Exercising with a friend or a group of people can help make it more fun, interesting, and keep you motivated to continue with a regular exercise routine.

    Exercise with friends

    illustration

  • Exercise - a powerful tool

    Exercise - a powerful tool - illustration

    Physical fitness is essential to good health and is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit. Exercise improves the way your body works, and it can make you look better, feel better, and even live longer.

    Exercise - a powerful tool

    illustration

  • Physical activity - preventive medicine

    Physical activity - preventive medicine - illustration

    Physical activity contributes to health by reducing the heart rate, decreasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and reducing the amount of bone loss that is associated with age and osteoporosis. Physical activity also helps the body use calories more efficiently, thereby helping in weight loss and maintenance. It can increase basal metabolic rate, reduces appetite, and helps in the reduction of body fat.

    Physical activity - preventive medicine

    illustration

  • Exercise and heart rate

    Exercise and heart rate - illustration

    To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. This number represents how many times your heart should beat per minute at its maximum rate. Multiply that number by 0.5 and 0.85 to determine your target heart rate range. If exercising at a moderate intensity, build up to exercising at 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. If exercising at a vigorous intensity, build up to exercising at 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate for 1 hour and 15 minutes a week.

    Exercise and heart rate

    illustration

    • Exercise can lower blood pressure

      Exercise can lower blood pressure - illustration

      Reducing your weight by just 10 pounds may be enough to lower your blood pressure. Losing weight can help to enhance the effects of high blood pressure medicine and may also reduce other risk factors, such as diabetes and high bad cholesterol.

      Exercise can lower blood pressure

      illustration

    • Aerobic exercise

      Aerobic exercise - illustration

      Aerobic exercise gets the heart working to pump blood through the heart more quickly and with more force than normal. As blood is pumped faster, it must be oxygenated more quickly, which quickens respiration. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and boosts healthy cholesterol levels. Low impact aerobics include walking and swimming. Running, tennis and dance are high impact aerobics. 

      Aerobic exercise

      illustration

    • Benefit of regular exercise

      Benefit of regular exercise - illustration

      Physical activity contributes to health by reducing the heart rate, decreasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and reducing the amount of bone loss that is associated with age and osteoporosis. Physical activity also helps the body use calories more efficiently, thereby helping in weight loss and maintenance. It can also increase basal metabolic rate, reduces appetite, and helps in the reduction of body fat.

      Benefit of regular exercise

      illustration

    • Isometric exercise

      Isometric exercise - illustration

      Isometric exercise works muscles and strengthens bone. Increased muscle mass elevates metabolism, which in turn burns fat. Strength training is also called anaerobic exercise, as opposed to aerobic, because increased oxygen production is not required.

      Isometric exercise

      illustration

    • Exercise and age

      Exercise and age - illustration

      Exercise can help older people feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think they are too old or too out of shape.

      Exercise and age

      illustration

    • Exercise with friends

      Exercise with friends - illustration

      Exercising with a friend or a group of people can help make it more fun, interesting, and keep you motivated to continue with a regular exercise routine.

      Exercise with friends

      illustration

    • Exercise - a powerful tool

      Exercise - a powerful tool - illustration

      Physical fitness is essential to good health and is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit. Exercise improves the way your body works, and it can make you look better, feel better, and even live longer.

      Exercise - a powerful tool

      illustration

    • Physical activity - preventive medicine

      Physical activity - preventive medicine - illustration

      Physical activity contributes to health by reducing the heart rate, decreasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and reducing the amount of bone loss that is associated with age and osteoporosis. Physical activity also helps the body use calories more efficiently, thereby helping in weight loss and maintenance. It can increase basal metabolic rate, reduces appetite, and helps in the reduction of body fat.

      Physical activity - preventive medicine

      illustration

    • Exercise and heart rate

      Exercise and heart rate - illustration

      To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. This number represents how many times your heart should beat per minute at its maximum rate. Multiply that number by 0.5 and 0.85 to determine your target heart rate range. If exercising at a moderate intensity, build up to exercising at 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. If exercising at a vigorous intensity, build up to exercising at 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate for 1 hour and 15 minutes a week.

      Exercise and heart rate

      illustration

    Self Care

     
     

    Review Date: 5/13/2019

    Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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