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Increasing Physical Activity for a Healthier Lifestyle

August 2015

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RDN, FAND, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

To increase your physical activity each day, choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy. Try taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot, bus stop, or train station or join an exercise class at a local Y, community college, or adult education program. Try something different on alternate days. Remember, every little bit of activity adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Make sure to do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time as shorter bursts of activity will not have the same health benefits. For example, walking the dog for 10 minutes before and after work or adding a 10 minute walk at lunchtime can add to your weekly goal.

Mix it up. Swim, take a yoga class, garden or lift weights. To be ready anytime, keep some comfortable clothes and a pair of walking or running shoes in your car and where you work. Here are some ways to increase your physical activity at home:

  • Join a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall. Recruit a partner for support and encouragement.
  • Push the baby in a stroller.
  • Get the whole family involved by enjoying an afternoon bike ride with your kids.
  • Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play.
  • Use the stairs at home, at work, and in the community to add extra steps each day.
  • Walk the dog — don't just watch the dog walk.
  • Clean the house or wash the car.
  • Walk, skate, or cycle more, and drive less.
  • Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.
  • Mow the lawn with a push mower.
  • Plant and care for a vegetable or flower garden.
  • Play with the kids — tumble in leaves, build a snowman, splash in a puddle, or dance to favorite music. Exercise to a workout video.

Regular physical activity can produce long term health benefits. It will help you to improve your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. People of all ages and abilities can benefit from being physically active.

The more physical activity you do, the greater the health benefits. Take these small steps each day to add more activity for a healthier lifestyle.