Physical activity — the one thing we hear so much about is sometimes one of the last things we want to do. Increase your enthusiasm for physical activity by changing how you think about it. Consider exercise as an indulgence for your body. Give yourself permission to enjoy a new and exciting activity; then reward yourself with something special like a hot stone massage.
Develop a Plan
To develop a complete and balanced program for a healthy body, include both types of these activities:
- Aerobic Activity: Moderate intensity aerobic activity gets your heart beating faster such as brisk walking. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week. Or get the same benefits in half time. Step it up a notch and aim for 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity such as jogging or running
- Muscle-Strengthening Activities: Make your muscles work harder than usual such as lifting weights or working with resistance bands. Aim for at least 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activity.
Make physical activity an adventure by trying something new. Here are a few ideas:
- Watch a Latin dance video and try some new steps
- Join a rec league - volleyball, dodgeball, softball, flag football, archery, etc.
- Try water aerobics or swim laps
- Take a belly dancing or line dancing class
- Consider pickleball or disc golf
- Go kayaking or paddleboarding
- Enroll in a martial arts program
- Take an online exercise class
- Visit the driving range or the batting cages
- Enlist the help of a personal trainer
Goals help you measure your accomplishments. They are the steps you climb to reach your ultimate destination. By setting short- and long-term goals, you will know:
- What you have accomplished
- What you still need to do or if you need to change your plan
Write goals that are SMART:
- Specific goals identify what you are going to do, such as "I will walk ..."
- Measurable goals identify how much to do. Add numbers and time frames to your goals: "I will walk for 30 minutes a day..."
- Achievable goals identify actions that are possible for your situation. For example, if you are always pressed for time before and after work, maybe "I will walk for 30 minutes a day over my lunch hour" is achievable for you.
- Realistic goals identify actions that are reasonable for your situation. If your job keeps you from walking at lunch every day, how many days can you expect to get away at noon?
- Trackable goals help you gauge your progress. Can you check off an accomplishment on your calendar just as you had planned?
It is important to reward yourself for accomplishing your goals. Treat yourself as soon as you reach your goal. Here are a few ideas:
- Make your reward something you might never do for yourself, such as getting a massage, a facial or a pedicure.
- Buy a fun pair of shoes, a different fishing pole, or a new purse.
- Do you love adventure? Consider doing something you have never done before - go ziplining, rock climbing or parasailing.
- Take time to read or finish a good book, watch a movie, take a long bubble bath, or plant a flower or vegetable garden.
- Do nothing - give yourself a few hours that are completely yours to enjoy.
Just remember — NOW is the best time to get started.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans - 2nd Edition, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Move Your Way®, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The information was originally authored by Carol Schwarz. It was reviewed and updated in 2022.