Regular physical activity can improve your health in a number of ways including lowering your risk for conditions and diseases and maintaining good mental health, as well as improving your mood, sex drive and energy levels.
For instance, if you are diabetic, adding regular exercise to your routine can lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 41% of non-Hispanic black adults were more likely to be inactive compared to almost 28% of non-Hispanic white adults.
There are a number of other reasons to be more active. Feeling a bit down? The Mayo Clinic states that exercise stimulates chemicals in the brain that will ultimately improve your mood and give you a daily energy boost. What about if you’re having trouble sleeping? The National Sleep Foundation states that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise will reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and lengthen sleep time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should be engaging in moderate-intensity activity for at least 30 minutes a day for five or more days a week.
For more information on fitness and its benefits:
- Mayo Clinic, Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
- American Diabetes Association, Physical Activity is Important
- American Heart Association, Physical Inactivity Statistical Sheet
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Benefits of Physical Activity
- National Sleep Association, How Sleep Helps Those with Chronic Insomnia
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two types of physical activity are needed each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening. Both types of activity improve flexibility, relieve stress, strengthen bones, and increase your life span.
Aerobic exercise, which should be done at least three hours a week include:
- Brisk walking
Muscle-strengthening should be done two or more days a week and include all body parts. These exercises include:
- Bicep curls
The best time to work out is when you will get the most out of it. The American Heart Association states that the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked to the amount you do on a regular basis. Location, social setting, and time of day all play a major role in the quality workout you will receive.
Many people prefer working out with partners or taking classes to help motivate and hold them accountable for completion of the workout while other feel more focused working out alone. No matter your preference, insuring you get the proper amount of physical activity is vital to your overall quality of health.
Exercise routines vary by person, depending on your health and workout goals. The Mayo Clinic provides a five step process for those new to working out. It includes:
Assess your fitness level by measuring your pulse rate, flexibility, how long it takes to walk a mile and the number of pushups you are able to complete. Setting this baseline will help you set goals and see that you are reaching them over time.
Design your fitness program. A weekly routine with time limits and specific exercises is great for beginners. Use time limits to motivate and use the exercise list you created to hold yourself accountable for the completion of the routine.
Assemble your equipment. Be sure to have proper clothing and understanding on how to use necessary equipment to prevent injury.
Get started. There is no time like the present to begin your fitness routine. Begin slowly and gradually work up intensity. Be creative and switch up your routine or work out with friends for friendly competition.
Monitor progress. Retake your personal fitness assessment every three to six months and see how it compares to when you first began.
For more on creating a fitness plan:
- Mayo Clinic, Fitness Program: 5 Steps to get Started
- HelpGuide.org, What’s the Best Exercise Plan for Me?
- Women’s Day, Easy Workout Routines
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The bulk of food consumption should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products.