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Exercise: Key points
  • The goals of exercise include building strength and endurance, reducing body fat, enhancing movement of joints and muscles, and improving your sense of well-being.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General recommends "a moderate amount of physical activity most, if not all, days of the week."
  • Most experts agree that you need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day to improve your health and 60 minutes of physical activity per day to lose weight.
  • You know that you are being physically active if your heart beats faster, your muscles contract, and your temperature rises.
  • Try to incorporate all three types of exercise into your routine: cardiovascular (also called aerobic or endurance), weight (strength), and flexibility (stretch) training.
  • Learn your target heart zone and exercise within that range. The target heart zone is 60 - 80% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Physical activity can protect your heart as well as lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and chance of getting type 2 diabetes.
  • Exercise should be fun. Choose a physical activity that you enjoy.
  • Avoid injury by varying your workout, warming up and stretching, cooling down adequately, and taking a day off once in awhile.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. This is important no matter what the temperature is outside.
  • Some exercise is better than none. It's ok to break up your 30 - 60 minutes each day into 10- or 20-minute intervals, or exercise 3 days a week if you can't exercise more often.
  • Have realistic expectations, and recognize when you are working too hard.
  • Make the time for exercise to be a part of your regular routine, no matter what your age.
  • People lose 20 - 40% of their muscle mass -- and, along with it, their strength -- as they age. Strength training throughout your life can help prevent this loss.
  • Starting out slowly and being consistent may be the best way to successfully make exercise a habit.

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Review Date: 6/18/2009
Reviewed By: Jeffrey Heit, MD, Internist with special emphasis on preventive health, fitness and nutrition, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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