Fitness facts, tips and guidance

Getting fit and staying fit is important — at all stages of life. Exercise may help make your heart strong, reduce blood pressure, help you maintain healthy bones, increase flexibility, help lift your spirits, give you energy and help keep your weight in a healthy range. But even knowing how good it may be for us, fitting in regular exercise may feel like a hard habit to start. For many people, it might be a matter of overcoming excuses — it may be common to feel too tired, too busy or too intimidated.

To make a change, you might consider starting small — maybe you just fit in 5 minutes of exercise once a day. It’s ok if you may not have time for a 30-minute workout. Work in what you believe feels manageable. Maybe you start with 5 minutes, work up to 10 or 15 and go from there.

Physical benefits of regular exercise

While many people might exercise to lose weight, the physical benefits may go beyond that. Physical activity may help to1:

  • Control cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Increase flexibility
  • Lower the risk of diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease
  • Prevent bone loss
  • Build muscle tone and strength
  • Increase energy levels

What are some exercise tips to focus on?

When it comes to exercise, slow and steady wins the race according to the CDC. People who lose 1 to 2 pounds per week have better odds of keeping the weight off long-term.2 Here are a few exercise tips to keep in mind:

  • When you lift weights, your muscles burn calories at rest more than other tissues, speeding up your resting metabolism
  • A workout that really gets your heart pumping — jogging, biking, speed walking or aerobic exercise — may burn the most calories per session
  • Strength training may be more likely to help you burn more calories as the day goes on

And remember, it’s not about how fast you lose weight. It’s how consistent you are with your routine, and how much you modify your diet.

Healthy habits, like regular exercise, may have many benefits

What's your everyday routine? Are there ways to add new healthy habits into your life? When you do, you may experience a variety of benefits. For example, physical exercise may help:

  • Improve your relationships
  • Lower your health care costs
  • Supercharge your creativity3
  • Bring feelings of joy to your life — exercise releases endorphins, which can make you feel happy

Easy ways to help sneak exercise into your schedule

No matter how jam-packed your schedule may be, you can still "sneak" exercise into your day. Some simple ideas might be:

  • Do squats while you brush your teeth or blow dry your hair
  • Park a little farther away, whether driving to the office, grocery store or an appointment
  • Consider how much you stand during the day
  • Schedule walk breaks into your day
  • Play with the kids. Chase around the yard, play sports or active games with them.

There's lots more you can do to keep moving throughout the day — for you and your family too.

Finding fitness motivation — even when you're on vacation

Your mindset can help you achieve many things. You might find fitness motivation just by changing your viewpoint about the activity you're doing. When you actually enjoy your workout and it's fun, it doesn't feel like a chore. Then, you're more likely to make it part of your lifestyle. Even when you're on vacation, you may find it's easier to stay active. You might be surprised how easy it is.

Positive steps to keep going with exercise

How can you keep up your exercise routine? Just do your best and consider ways to focus on your progress every day by taking steps like like:

  • Scheduling workout time on your calendar and trying your best to stick to it, but try not to be so rigid that you’re discouraged if life may get in the way (it might).
  • Not dwelling on the workout itself, and instead thinking about putting on your shoes and getting to your destination, wherever that may be. Sometimes just getting on your gear may be the biggest hurdle.
  • Not comparing yourself to others. Many people’s fitness journey looks different.

Try to visualize your success. Remember why you started. Every step you take — even little ones — are steps in a positive direction.

Footnotes

  1. Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight cdc.gov, 2020.
  2. What is healthy weight loss? cdc.gov, 2020.
  3. Exercise enhances creativity independently of mood ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 1997.