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In order to reap the health benefits of physical activity, the CDC recommends that all adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days of the week.  If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss, you should bump that number up to an hour.  If you’re pressed for time, breaking that time up into chunks has the same benefit as doing it all at once.  


So how do you know if your exercise is “moderate-intensity?”  The simplest way to determine your intensity level is to do the “talk-sing test.”  While exercising, try to talk.  If you can talk, try to sing a simple song (like Mary Had a Little Lamb).  If you’re exercising at the moderate-intensity level, you should be able to talk comfortably, but if you can sing, you’re not working hard enough. 


And don’t forget about your muscles!  Adults should do some muscle strengthening exercises on two or more days a week.  Strength building activities are just as important to your overall health as cardiovascular activities.  They build and strengthen muscle tissue, increase your overall metabolism, and help to strengthen your bones, preventing osteoporosis.


Since children are still growing and developing, their exercise needs are not the same as adults.  Children need about an hour of physical activity each day.  So if you have kids, help them find ways to be more physically active, too.


Tips for success:

  • Start by asking yourself what you want to gain from being physically active and set some realistic goals. Once you know where you’re going, you’re more likely to get there.

  • Ask yourself what’s keeping you from exercising now, and find solutions to those barriers.  Remove your excuses. 

  • Find a workout buddy. 

  • Do what you enjoy doing.  If you hate running, don’t do it.  Make it fun and you’re more likely to stick with it.

  • Add variety.  Have several activities that you can do, and mix it up to prevent boredom.

  • Dress appropriately.

  • Find the time that works best for you.  For some, that’s getting up an hour earlier.  For others, that’s doing it right after work.   

  • Schedule it.  Put it on your calendar, and treat it like an appointment.

  • Listen to music that keeps you motivated and entertained.

  • Surround yourself with supportive people, and specify what kind of support you need.  For instance, ask your husband to spend time with the kids while you go for a run.

  • Don’t over-do it, especially at first.  You can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your activities as you become more fit. 

  • Keep a record of your activities.  Reward yourself at special milestones.

  • Don’t be glued to the scale.  Focus more on the health benefits than the weight loss. 

  • Think of this as “your time.”  There are no ringing phones or screaming children.  No dinner to cook or laundry to sort.  It’s just you.  Enjoy it.   


Also keep in mind that physical activity doesn’t have to be something structured, like aerobics or walking on a treadmill, to be effective.  Anything that gets you up and moving, gets your heart pumping, and makes you breath heavier will count.  Try some of these to keep you going:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

  • Do yard work.  Mow your lawn, rake some leaves, or shovel some snow.

  • Go for a walk after dinner or during your lunch hour.

  • Quicken your pace when you do your housework.  Not only will this get your heart rate up, you’ll be done with your housework sooner!

  • Walk the dog.

  • Do something while watching TV.  Buy a pair of hand weights, a mini stair-stepper, or just run in place or stand up and sit down over and over again. 

  • Stop driving to areas that are within walking distance of your house.

  • Park at the back of the lot.

  • “Power-Shop”- power walk while you shop.

  • Make family time active time.  Play soccer in the yard rather than renting a movie.  Go for a walk as a family each night after dinner.  Plan active family events and vacations.



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