HEALTH AND FITNESS
What are the health benefits of exercise?
• Help you control your weight. Along with diet, exercise plays an important role
in controlling your weight and preventing obesity. To maintain your weight, the calories
you eat and drink must equal the energy you burn. To lose weight, you must use more
calories than you eat and drink.
• Reduce your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves
your circulation. The increased blood flow raises the oxygen levels in your body. This
helps lower your risk of heart diseases such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease,
and heart attack. Regular exercise can also lower your blood pressure and triglyceride
• Help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can lower
your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk
for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And if you already have one of those
diseases, exercise can help you to manage it.
• Help you quit smoking. Exercise may make it easier to quit smoking by reducing your
cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit the weight you might gain
when you stop smoking.
• Improve your mental health and mood. During exercise, your body releases
chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help
you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.
• Help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. Exercise
stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the
structure and function of your brain.
• Strengthen your bones and muscles. Regular exercise can help kids and teens build
strong bones. Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age.
Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle
mass and strength.
• Reduce your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast , uterine, and lung cancer.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
• Reduce your risk of falls. For older adults, research shows that doing balance and
muscle-strengthening activities in addition to moderate-intensity aerobic activity can
help reduce your risk of falling.
• Improve your sleep. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
• Improve your sexual health. Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile
dysfunction (ED) in men. For those who already have ED, exercise may help improve
their sexual function. In women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.
• Increase your chances of living longer. Studies show that physical activity can reduce
your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some
Exercise and Physical Fitness
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has
many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk
for many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercise; it is important that
you pick the right types for you. Most people benefit from a combination of them.
• Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They
keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall
fitness. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.
• Strength, or resistance training, exercises make your muscles stronger.
Some examples are lifting weights and using a resistance band.
• Balance exercises can make it easier to walk on uneven surfaces and help prevent
falls. To improve your balance, try tai chi or exercises like standing on one leg.
• Flexibility, exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber.
Yoga and doing various stretches can make you more flexible.
Exercise for a Healthy Heart
Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. It's
never too late to start exercising, and you don't have to be an athlete. Even taking a brisk walk
for 30 minutes a day can make a big difference.
Once you get going, you'll find it pays off. People who don't exercise are almost twice as likely to
get heart disease as people who are active.
Regular exercise can help you:
• Burn calories
HEALTH AND FITNESS
• Lower your blood pressure
• Reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol
• Boost your HDL "good" cholesterol
How to Start Exercising
First, think about what you'd like to do and how fit you are.
What sounds like fun? Would you rather work out on your own, with a trainer, or in a class?
Do you want to exercise at home or at a gym?
If you want to do something that's harder than what you can do right now, no problem. You
can set a goal and build up to it.
For example, if you want to run, you might start by walking and then add bursts
of jogging into your walks. Gradually start running for longer than you walk.
Don't forget to check in with your doctor. They'll make sure you're ready for whatever activity
you have in mind and let you know about any limits on what you can do.
Types of Exercise
Aerobic exercise ("cardio"): Running, jogging, and biking are some examples. You're moving
fast enough to raise your heart rate and breathe harder, but you should still be able to talk to
someone while you're doing it. Otherwise, you are pushing too hard. If you have joint problems,
choose a low-impact activity, like swimming or walking.
Stretching: You'll become more flexible if you do exercise a couple of times a week. Stretch
after you've warmed up or finished exercising. Stretch gently -- it shouldn't hurt.
Strength training. You can use weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight (yoga, for
instance) for this. Do it 2-3 times a week. Let your muscles recover for a day between sessions.
How Much Should You Exercise and How Often?
Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking). That
amounts to about 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. If you're just getting started, you can
slowly build up to that.
In time, you can make your workouts longer or more challenging. Do that gradually, so your
body can adjust.
When you work out, keep your pace low for a few minutes at the start and end of your workout.
That way, you warm up and cool down each time.
You don't have to do the same exact thing every time. It's more fun if you change it up.
out. You'll probably be able to exercise with no problem if your doctor says you can and if you
pay attention to how you're feeling while you're working
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Stop and get immediate medical help if you have pain or pressure in your chest or the upper part
of your body, break out in a cold sweat, have trouble breathing, have a very fast or uneven heart
rate, or feel dizzy, lightheaded, or very tired.
It's normal for your muscles to be mildly sore for a day or two after your workout when you're
new to exercise. That fades as your body gets used to it. Soon, you might be surprised to find
that you like how you feel when you're done.
Exercise and Weight Loss
It's a fact: You have to burn more calories than you eat and drink to lose weight.
For weight loss, it really matters that you cut back on the calories that you eat and drink. That
matters most for taking the pounds off, according to the CDC.
How Much Exercise Should I Do?
Start with just a few minutes of exercise at a time. Any exercise is better than none, and that
helps your body slowly get used to being active.
Your goal is to work up to at least a half an hour most days of the week to get the full benefits
If it's more convenient, you can do short spurts -- 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. Each
action by itself may not seem like much, but they add up.
Once you’re in better shape, you can gradually exercise for longer periods of time and do
more strenuous activities.
When you’re up for it, you can ramp up the intensity and get the same benefits in half the time.
For example, jogging for 30 minutes provides health benefits similar to walking for 60 minutes.
What Kind of Exercise Should I Do?
You can do anything that makes your heart and lungs work harder, such as walking, biking,
jogging, swimming, fitness classes, or cross-country skiing. Mowing your lawn, going out
dancing, playing with your kids -- it all counts, if it revs your heart.
If you don’t exercise and you’re a man over 45, a woman over 55, or have a medical condition,
ask your doctor if you should avoid any types of activities.
Start with something like walking or swimming that’s easy on your body. Work at a slow,
comfortable pace so you start to get fit without straining your body.
At least two or three times a week, do strength training. You can use resistance bands,
weights, or your own body weight.
Stretch all your muscles at least twice a week after you exercise. That helps keep you flexible
and prevent injury.