Here’s a well-known fact: Regular exercise can improve your health, your attitude and your odds against disease and disability. For specific fitness benefits, experts say we should focus on 4 primary forms:
1. Aerobic (cardio) exercise works your heart, lungs and muscles, helping to protect overall endurance and aid weight loss. Feel winded as you walk up a flight of stairs? Start regular brisk activities (walking, swimming, dancing, cycling). Start with good old-fashioned walking. It’s easy to do and can fit easily into your lifestyle.
2. Strength training maintains and builds muscle to power you through your days. Workouts help to protect your bones, control blood sugar, aid weight control and balance, and reduce stress and strain in your back and joints.
3. Stretching aids flexibility, the key to staying mobile and working well without pain or injury. Simple stretching during your work day can reduce muscle fatigue and stiffness, restore energy and improve thinking. For calm, try yoga.
4. Balance training keeps you steady on your feet and strengthens your core to help prevent falls, especially important as we age or gain weight. Try this: Stand on 1 foot for up to a minute; practice it daily. Choose tai chi for mind-body benefits.
Minimum exercise for health: Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity. Mix it up: Daily chores, formal workouts and sports all count. Even if you can’t get in 150 minutes a week, some activity is better than none.
Note: First get your health care provider’s okay before significantly increasing physical activities.