When you move more every day, you will burn more calories. This can help you reach your weight-loss goal and keep the weight off. Even if you don’t lose weight, being more active may help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Use these tips to get started, and keep moving:
Have fun. Being active doesn’t have to be boring or painful. Turn up the music and dance while cleaning the house. Go dancing with friends and family members. Play sports with your kids or grandkids. Try swimming, biking, walking, jogging, yoga, or any activity that you enjoy that gets you moving. Find different ways to be active so you won’t get bored.
Dress to move. Wear walking shoes that fit your feet and provide comfort and support. Your clothes should allow you to move and should keep you dry and comfortable. Look for fabrics that take sweat away from your skin to keep you cool.
Start slowly. Start by taking a 5-10 minute walk (or doing another activity that you like) on most days of the week. Slowly, add more time until you reach at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days a week. Moderate-intensity activity will increase your heart rate and breathing. To check your intensity, use the Talk Test: A person doing moderate-intensity activity is able to talk but not sing.
Add more movement to your day. There are many ways you can add more movement to your day. If you have a dog, take your dog for a brisk walk in the morning or evening. When going shopping, park further away from the store’s entrance to increase your walk time. If you ride the bus, get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way if it is safe.
Try to sit less in your day. Get up every hour and move. When you watch TV, walk or dance around the room, march in place, or stretch.
Move more at work. Take a “movement break” during the day. Go for a walk during lunchtime. Deliver a message in person to a coworker instead of sending an email. Walk around your workplace while talking on the telephone. Take the stairs instead of the elevator to your workplace. Use the alarm on your phone, watch, or other device to remind you to take “movement breaks.”
Count your steps. You may be surprised to learn how much walking you already do every day. Use a pedometer or other wearable device to keep track of your steps. A pedometer is a gadget that counts the number of steps you take. Work up to 7, 000-10,000 steps per day.
Keep your muscles strong. Do activities to strengthen your muscles, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands 2 or more days a week.
Stretch it out. If your body aches or is sore, you are less likely to move more. To reduce stiff or sore muscles or joints, consider stretching after being active. Don’t bounce when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.
Make it social. When you bring other people into your activities, you are more likely to stick to your plan. Make walking “dates” with friends or family members throughout the week.
For family fun, play soccer, basketball, or tag with your children. Take a class at a local gym or recreation center to be active with other people. Start a walking group with your neighbors, at work, or where you worship.
Keep at it. The longer you keep at it, the better you’ll feel. Making changes is never easy, but being more active is one small step toward a big reward: a healthier life.
Track your progress. Seeing your progress over time may help you keep at it. You can track your progress on paper, online, or with an app for your phone or computer. Monitor the type of activity you did, how long you did it, and how you felt. Use this information to chart your progress, overcome setbacks, stay motivated, and set new goals.
Another way to see your progress is on a smartphone, mobile device, or computer. You can download a fitness app that allows you to enter information and gauge your effort.
Devices such as pedometers and fitness trackers can help you count steps, calories, active minutes, hours of sleep, and more. You wear most of these devices on your wrist like a watch or clipped to your clothing. Some of the devices can also track your heart rate and how far you walk or run during a certain period of time.
Be sure to play it safe, regardless of which activities you choose. An injury could cause a setback, keep you from meeting your physical activity goals, and affect how active you are in the future.
Start slowly. If you are starting a new physical activity program, go slowly at first. Even if you are doing an activity that you once did well, begin little by little to lower your chance of injury or burnout.
Stay hydrated. Remember to drink liquids. Water is an option. Sports beverages have a lot of sugar, will add extra calories, and aren’t necessary for most moderate activity.
Listen to your body. Take it easy at first and see how you feel before trying more challenging workouts. Stop if you feel out of breath, dizzy, faint, or nauseated, or if you have chest pain or any other type of pain.
Address existing health issues. If you have an injury or health problem such as diabetes or heart disease, talk with your health care professional about how to add physical activity to your life safely.
Think ahead and plan for setbacks. Have options ready in advance in case of bad weather, injury, or other unusual events. If you do get off track, don’t give up. Regroup and focus on meeting your goal again as soon as you can.
Give yourself a nonfood reward for meeting your goals. Think of rewards that may motivate you to do even more, such as trying a new, healthy recipe with friends, joining a fitness class, or going to a movie with friends. Celebrate your small successes!
Be safe—start slowly, drink plenty of liquids, and talk with your health care professional if you have a health problem or an injury. Choose activities you enjoy and try new ones.