Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week with a target of 150 minutes per week. If you have a busy schedule, this may seem like a lot. But there are many ways to add exercise to even the busiest schedule.
Why Make the Time?
Getting regular exercise benefits your health in many ways:
- Strengthens your heart and lungs
- Lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
- Strengthens and tones your muscles
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Helps you lose extra pounds (kgs)
- Improves sleep
- Relieves stress
- Improves balance
- May help prevent certain cancers
- May help slow bone loss
Ways to Get Moving
It is easy to make excuses not to exercise. Instead, look for simple ways to make exercise a regular part of your life.
- Break it up. You do not need to do all 30 minutes of exercise at one time. You can get the same health benefits from doing three 10-minute sessions, or two 15-minute workouts. For example, you could do 10 minutes of squats and push-ups in the morning, take a brisk 10-minute walk after lunch, then play a round of hoops with the kids after dinner.
- Find something you enjoy. Do not struggle to do an exercise you do not like. There are endless ways to get moving. Keep trying until you find different activities you like. Then keep mixing it up.
- Make your commute count. If possible, bike, walk, or jog to and from work. You may find you feel less stressed and have more energy when you arrive. Plus, you will save money by not having to pay for parking, gas, or bus fare.
- Get up earlier. A morning workout can boost your energy for the rest of the day. So set your alarm in the morning for 30 minutes earlier. Walk or jog around the neighborhood, or use a stationary bike or treadmill indoors.
- Choose the right time for you. While a.m. exercise may be a great way to start the day, if you are not a morning person, it may feel like a chore. Instead, try exercising at lunchtime or after work.
- Schedule your exercise. Make getting exercise just as important as your other appointments. Set aside time in your daily planner. No one needs to know what you are doing. They just need to know that you are not available during that time. Also, no matter what type of exercise you do, try to do it at the same time every day. This helps make it part of your routine. For example, you might swim after work every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or, you could take a walk after dinner every weeknight.
- Join a team. Softball, basketball, hockey, and soccer are not just for kids. Look for recreational teams in your community. Most leagues are open to all skill levels. So do not worry if you have not played before. Joining a team can make exercise more fun and help keep you motivated.
- Tune in while you work out. Use TV time to exercise. You can stretch, jog in place, jump rope, use resistance bands, or use a bike trainer while you watch your favorite TV shows.
- Join or start a fitness group at work. Your co-workers likely face the same struggles to exercise as you do. Get together with like-minded folks at work to walk or jog at lunch or after work.
- Make coffee dates active. If you regularly meet a friend for coffee or lunch, think about making it an activity date instead. Take a walk or a hike, go bowling, or try a new exercise class together. Many people find exercising with a friend more fun.
- Get a personal trainer. Working with a personal trainer can help teach you new ways to exercise and keep you motivated. Just make sure to ask about the trainer's qualifications. They should have an exercise certification from a national organization, such as the American College of Sports Medicine. Many gyms offer group training, which can help cut the cost.
- Get fit with your family. Plan weekly outings with your children that include exercise. Go bicycling, take a nature walk, or go swimming. Or, sign up for an exercise class for parents and children.
Exercise - time to move; Weight loss - time to move; Obesity - time to move
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Physical activity basics. www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics. Updated March 17, 2022. Accessed September 16, 2022.
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Review Date 5/12/2022
Updated 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 C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.