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The best physical activity is the kind you enjoy!

Did you know that engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week is enough to obtain health benefits for the average adult? Even better, this activity can be spread out over the day, for example, in shorter periods of 10 to 15 minutes each.

Physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial, although increasing the time, intensity, and/or frequency of physical activity will result in even greater health benefits. You also do not have to be an athlete to achieve an active lifestyle and health benefits. Yet, if you have not been active in a while, you should start out slowly and make gradual changes to increase your physical activity level.

Here are some examples of physical activities you might enjoy:

Moderate Activities
Walking briskly
Walking downstairs
Yoga, Tai Chi

Vigorous Activities
Walking upstairs
Biking up a hill
Jumping rope

A sedentary person who decides to become active should consider the following recommendations:

» Begin by choosing from among the different types of moderate exercise (see list above), particularly those that can easily be built into your routine daily life.
» Strive to be active at least 30 minutes every day or most days of the week; activity should be maintained over time so find something you enjoy!
» If 30 minutes is too much, progressively build up to 30 minutes of activity. The 30 minutes can also be split into multiple shorter sessions. For example, walk 10-15 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon, use the stairs for about 3-5 minutes, dance for 10 minutes, etc.
» Begin your physical activity program slowly. To increase the health benefits of physical activity, you may gradually increase intensity and time.

With the exception of those with chronic health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, the above recommendations are safe and can be started right away. Adults with a chronic health problem should ask their doctor what physical activities are appropriate.

Physical activity also benefits older adults and seniors. Older adults get the additional benefit of the social interaction that comes along with being active. Older adults who live sedentary lifestyles or have chronic diseases should always consult with a physician before engaging in any kind of physical activity.

Think your schedule is too busy to accommodate exercise? Try some of these tips!

• Spend a few minutes in the morning doing wake-up stretches. If your mornings are already too rushed, try stretching at your desk at work. Stretching will limber your joints and energizes your muscles.
• Try to roller-blade, walk, or bike to your destination, whether it be a friend’s apartment, a coffee-shop, the market, or work.
• If an alternate commute is impossible, get off the bus or subway one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way.
• Make use of your lunch break. Take a 20 to 30 minute walk with a co-worker and eat after the walk.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you work in a high rise building, get on and off the elevator a few floors before your floor and walk the stairs the rest of the way.
• If you need to speak with a co-worker, walk over to him/her to deliver the message rather than using the phone or email.
• Do some chores. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, or walk the dog.
• Stretch, jog in place, or lift weights while watching TV.
• Go to a dance or skating rink instead of going to a movie.
• Play games with your kids. Shoot some hoops, play some hopscotch or toss a ball.
• Park farther away from the grocery store and carry your groceries to the car.
• Plan Sunday family outings, featuring no-cost, fun exercise activities. Rotate the selection and planning of the activities with each family member.