Get In Shape

Starting a fitness program

Parents with infant daughter

Here are some tips for making exercise part of your routine:

  • Pick Activities you enjoy. You're more likely to stick with them.
  • Set goals that fit your fitness level. As it improves, slowly increase the amount of time and intensity of your activity. 
  • Track your progress.
  • Figure out which physical activity benefits you. This will help you personalize the benefits of physical activity. 

Components of a basic exercise program

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A well-balanced exercise regimen should include: 

  • Aerobic activity (cardio)
  • Muscle-strengthening activity

Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.1  This includes brisk walking, jogging, dancing and bicycling. Spread the time out during the week. You can even do it 10 minutes at a time during the day.

If you prefer vigorous exercise (such as jogging or running), guidelines say to get at least 75 minutes a week. Or mix moderate and vigorous exercise throughout the week.

Add strength training 2 or more days a week that works all major muscle groups (legs,hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

1How much physical activity do adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 2014.

Making it easier

Woman meditating on blue mat

The top reasons for not exercising include lack of time, lack of motivation and inconvenience. Here are some simple steps to overcome these barriers:

  • Find at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity. Put them in your schedule.
  • Select more vigorous activities you can do in less time, such as running, swimming laps or stair climbing.
  • Take a class with a friend; join a gym.
  • Plan social activities that involve exercise.

Avoiding exercise injuries

Two women stretching together

If you are exercising for health and fitness, and not training for a specific sport, you may be more susceptible to overuse, stress-related or repetitive-motion injuries. These usually result when joints or soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments or bursae) become irritated and inflamed. To avoid overuse injury, you must give these soft tissues time to toughen, even if your muscles are urging you to go farther and faster.


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