Exercise: Key points
  • The goals of exercise include building strength and endurance, reducing body fat, enhancing movement of joints and muscles, and improving your sense of well-being.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General recommends "a moderate amount of physical activity most, if not all, days of the week."
  • Most experts agree that you need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day to improve your health and 60 minutes of physical activity per day to lose weight.
  • You know that you are being physically active if your heart beats faster, your muscles contract, and your temperature rises.
  • Try to incorporate all three types of exercise into your routine: cardiovascular (also called aerobic or endurance), weight (strength), and flexibility (stretch) training.
  • Learn your target heart zone and exercise within that range. The target heart zone is 50 - 75% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Physical activity can protect your heart as well as lower your cholesterol, your blood pressure, and your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
  • Exercise should be fun. Choose a physical activity that you enjoy.
  • Avoid injury by varying your workout, warming up and stretching, cooling down adequately, and taking a day off once in awhile.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. This is important no matter what the temperature is outside.
  • Some exercise is better than none. It's ok to break up your 30 - 60 minutes each day into 10- or 20-minute intervals, or exercise 3 days a week if you can't exercise more often.
  • Have realistic expectations, and recognize when you are working too hard.
  • Make the time for exercise to be a part of your regular routine, no matter what your age.
  • People lose 20 - 40% of their muscle mass -- and, along with it, their strength -- as they age. Strength training throughout your life can help prevent this loss.
  • Starting out slowly and being consistent may be the best way to successfully make exercise a habit.


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Review Date: 3/12/2007

Reviewed By: Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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