The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise is a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle, because it has so many benefits. Everyone can benefit from exercising. With just 30 minutes of exercise a day, physical and mental health can be drastically improved, especially when combined with healthy eating.

Benefits of Exercise:

  • Reduces amount of blood fats
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improves heart and lung performance
  • Helps with weight loss and maintenance
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Improves mood and mental well-being
  • Decreases stress and anxiety
  • Helps prevent or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis (weight-bearing exercises)
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How Much Exercise Is Needed

Most of the benefits of exercise occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours) of exercise a week. This does not have to be completed all at once. It can be broken up throughout the week. For example, to get 150 minutes of exercise a week, you could exercise:

  • 30 minutes, 1 time a day, 5 days a week
  • 15 minutes, 2 times a day, 5 days a week
  • 10 minutes, 3 times a day, 5 days a week

The goal is to be as active as possible by increasing the amount of movement each day.

Ways To Increase Daily Activity:

  • Carry your groceries. Make extra trips to carry each bag into your home.
  • Park your car in the farthest spot from the entrance.
  • Skip the drive-thru and walk into the bank, dry cleaners or pharmacy.
  • Take a scenic walk through a zoo, park or museum.
  • Walk in place, do squats or lift weights during commercial breaks.
  • Pace around the house when talking on the phone.
  • Take your dog for a walk, or play with your cat.
  • Tend to your garden - pull weeds, rake leaves and plant flowers.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

Calories Burned in 30 Minutes Reference the chart below to know how many calories you can burn for 30 minutes of exercise, depending on the activity.


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Types of Exercise

There are four types of exercise - Endurance, Strength, Flexibility and Balance. Each type has its own specific health benefits. By including all four types in an exercise routine, you will receive the benefits each type offers, avoid boredom and lower your risk of injury.

Endurance (Aerobic) Endurance, or aerobic, exercises increase breathing and heart rate during activity. This strengthens the heart and lungs and improves blood flow. Examples of Endurance Exercises: Brisk walking, running, dancing, biking, swimming, playing sports such as basketball, tennis and soccer

Strength Strength exercises make muscles stronger. Strong muscles are important in carrying out daily tasks, such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries. Examples of Strength Exercises: Weight lifting, using a resistance band, push-ups, sit-ups

Flexibility Flexibility exercises improve the range of motion of muscles and help joints work smoothly. Flexible muscles help the body bend, stoop, reach and move easily. Examples of Flexibility Exercises: stretching (legs, arms, shoulders), yoga poses

Balance Balance exercises improve body alignment and ability to respond to physical obstacles. Increased balance can help prevent falls. Examples of Balance Exercises: Tai Chi, standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walk, yoga poses

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Starting an Exercise Program

Before starting any exercise program, it is important to talk with your doctor. Once you are approved to start exercising, follow these steps for a successful exercise program: 1. Set realistic goals. 2. Start your program slowly. If you are not used to exercising, start with 15 minutes of activity and increase it by 5 minutes each week. 3. Keep an exercise log. 4. Try different activities and find ones you enjoy. 5. Incorporate different types of exercise in your routine. 6. Always start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down and stretching. 7. Keep going! Do not get discouraged. If you miss some days, return to your routine as soon as possible.


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Exercising with Mobility Challenges

For people with mobility challenges, exercise is very important, because it helps strengthen muscles and improve balance. Try to exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Choose exercises with a minimal risk of falling and injuries. Start slowly with small intervals and light pound weights, and increase as able.

Try the exercises listed below, courtesy of the National Institute on Aging.

Arm Raise

Bicep Curls

Chair Stand

Hip Extension

Hip Flexion

Knee Extension

Knee Flexion

Plantar Flexion

Shoulder Flexion

Side Leg Raise

Tricep Dips

Triceps Extension

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