So you want to get fit and stay fit. Good for you! Regular physical activity can help you improve your health, manage your weight, lift your mood and much more.
Check with your physician first before starting a fitness plan, especially if you’re a man over 40 or a woman over 50, have a health condition or have been inactive for a long time.
Start small. Thirty minutes of moderate daily physical activity—such as brisk walking or gardening—will start reducing your risk for chronic diseases. You can accumulate those 30 minutes in 10- or 20-minute pieces throughout the day.
Build up gradually. Sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity offers further health benefits, including helping you manage your weight. Increase activity gradually.
Make it easy on yourself. Choose a time and location for exercise that fit your schedule. Block out the time on your calendar.
Suit your style. If you prefer to go solo, take a solitary walk on a nature trail or ride a stationary bike. If you want a support system, recruit a buddy for a regular walking date or join a fitness class.
Consider your skill level. If complicated dance moves aren’t your thing, step aerobics probably isn’t for you. Instead try walking, swimming or taking a spinning class.
Get in step. It’s fun and motivating to track your steps each day by wearing a pedometer (step counter). For good health and weight management, experts recommend 10,000 steps a day—about 5 miles. Increase your total gradually by tracking your average daily steps, then adding 500 steps every couple of weeks until you reach an average of 10,000 per day.
Consider special health concerns. For instance, if you have joint problems, opt for gentler activities such as swimming or bicycling instead of high-impact activities such as running or jumping.