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Staying physically active

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Staying physically active

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The most difficult part of any exercise program is not getting started but sticking with it. Here are some tips to help you stay physically active:

  1. Set your sights on short-term as well as long-term goals. For example, if your long-term goal is to walk one mile, then your short- term goal can be to walk the first quarter mile. Or if your long-term goal is to lose 10 pounds, then focus on the immediate goal of losing the first two or three pounds. With short-term goals you will be less likely to push yourself too hard or too long. Also, think back to where you started. When you compare it to where you are now, you will see the progress you've made.
  2. Discuss your program and goals with your family or friends. Their encouragement and understanding are important sources of support that can help you keep going. Your friends and family might even join in.
  3. If you're having trouble sticking to your regular activity program, use the questions on pages 20 and 21 to think through the kinds of things that can affect your exercise enjoyment.
  4. What were your original reasons for starting an activity program? Do these reasons still apply or are others more important? If you are feeling bored or aren't enjoying a particular activity, consider trying another one.

By continuing to be active regularly, you'll be building a good health habit with benefits you can enjoy throughout your life.

Increasing your daily activity

To become more physically active throughout your day, take advantage of any opportunity to get up and move around. Here are some examples:

  • Use the stairs - up and down - instead of the elevator. Start with one flight of stairs and gradually build up to more.
  • Park a few blocks from the office or store and walk the rest of the way. Or if you ride on public transportation, get off a stop or two before and walk a few blocks.
  • Take an activity break - get up and stretch, walk around and give your muscles and mind a chance to relax.
  • Instead of eating that extra snack, take a brisk stroll around the neighborhood.
  • Do housework, such as vacuuming, at a more brisk pace.
  • Mow your own lawn.
  • Carry your own groceries.
  • Go dancing instead of seeing a movie.
  • Take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.

If you have a family, encourage them to take part in an exercise program and recreational activities they can either share with you or do on their own. It is best to build healthy habits when children are young. When parents are active, children are more likely to be active and stay active after they become adults. Whatever your age, moderate physical activity can become a good health habit with lifelong benefits.


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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