Health Goals—Small Steps to Getting Healthier

Exercise and physical activity may be some of the healthiest things you can do for yourself at any age. But some adults are afraid that exercise will be too strenuous or that physical activity will harm them.

Of course, before you begin any physical activity program, it’s important to ask your doctor what level of activity is right for you.

Always be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

Even moderate activity can provide health benefits

Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can start with a program your body can tolerate—as little as 5 minutes of physical activity at a time—and slowly build up from there. This is especially important if you haven’t been active for a long time.

With your doctor’s advice, your goal could be to build up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week. You can choose to do your whole 30 minutes at once—or break up your sessions into three 10-minute chunks, as long as they total 30 minutes by the end of the day.

If you’re already doing 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity most days, you might consider trying to do a little more. The Surgeon General suggests that people who are already physically active will benefit even more by increasing the intensity or duration of their activity under their doctor’s supervision.

A little physical activity can lead to a lot of benefits

You might be surprised at the extent and strength of the evidence linking physical activity to numerous health improvements. The Surgeon General’s Report indicates that physical activity can also help reduce the risk of developing:

Physical activity also may help improve mental health; strengthen muscles, bones, and joints; and maintain function and preserve independence in older adults.

Experts recommend that increasing strength and endurance can help in making everyday things—like climbing stairs and carrying groceries—easier to do. Improving balance can help in preventing falls and in reducing the risk of bone fractures.

Why not take the first steps now?

A little more physical activity can make a positive difference in your overall health and state of mind. The trick is finding the right activity to keep you motivated. Explore this Web site for ideas and tips, and take steps toward your health goals. You can do it.

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