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Choosing activities that you enjoy

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Choosing activities that you enjoy

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The key to a successful program is choosing an activity (or activities) that you will enjoy. Even moderate levels of activity have important health benefits.Here are some things to think about that can help you choose the right kind of activity for you:

  • Your fitness level
    If you've been inactive for a while, you may want to start with walking or swimming at a comfortable pace. Beginning with less strenuous activities will allow you to become more fit without straining your body. Once you are in better shape, you can gradually change to a more vigorous activity if you wish.
  • Your age
    If you are over 40 and have not been active, avoid very strenuous programs such as jogging when you're first starting out. For the first few months, build up the length and intensity of your activity gradually. Walking and swimming are especially good forms of exercise for all ages.
  • Desired benefits
    If you want the benefits of exercise that condition your heart and lungs, refer to the list on the previous page of Beginning an exercise program.
  • Solitary or group activities
    Do you like individual activities such as swimming, team sports such as soccer, or two-person activities such as racquetball? How about an aerobics class or ballroom dancing? Companionship can help you get started and keep going. If you would like to exercise with someone else, can you find a partner easily and quickly? If not, choose another activity until you can find a partner.
  • Outdoors or indoors
    Outdoor activities offer variety in scenery and weather. Indoor activities offer shelter from the weather and can offer the convenience of exercising at home as with stationary cycling. Some activities such as bench stepping, running in place or jumping rope can be done indoors or outdoors. If your activity can be seriously affected by weather, consider choosing a second, alternate activity. Then you can switch activities and still stay on your regular schedule.
  • Expenses
    Many activities require little or no equipment. For example, brisk walking only requires a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Also, many communities offer free or inexpensive recreation facilities and physical activity classes.
  • Your schedule
    Do you feel more like being active in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Consider moving other activities around. Schedule your activity as a regular part of your routine. Remember that exercise sessions are spread out over the week and needn't take more than about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. By choosing activities you like, you will be more likely to keep doing them regularly and enjoying the many benefits of physical activity.


Adapted from The National Institutes of Health

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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