Start a Regular Exercise Program

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Here's Why:

image Exercise helps keep your body healthy. This may ward off many health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and many others.

Here's How:

Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic (cardiovascular) activity per week. For more health benefits, you can do 300 minutes per week.

Your program should have:

Aerobic Exercise

This puts your heart and lungs to work by moving large muscles in the legs and buttocks. You can do this through:

Strength Training (Resistance) Exercise

This builds lean muscle mass, which makes your muscles and bones stronger. It can be done through:

  • Weight lifting using:
    • Free weights
    • Weight machines
    • Elastic bands
  • Body weight exercises, such as push ups or chin ups

Stretching Exercise

Stretching can improve:

  • Flexibility
  • Range of motion
  • Blood flow

Some muscle groups to stretch are the back, arms, legs, and chest. Yoga and Tai chi are just two types of classes that focus on stretching.

Here are some tips to stretch safely:

  • Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes warming up your muscles before stretching. This can be done walking or swinging your arms
  • Start each stretch slowly, breathing out as you stretch the muscle.
  • Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.

Make sure you do not:

  • Bounce during a stretch
  • Stretch a muscle that is not warmed up
  • Strain or push a muscle too far
  • Hold your breath while stretching

Getting Started

Before you start, check with your doctor about any problems that would limit your workout program.

Think about setting up some time with a certified athletic trainer to make a safe and effective program that you will enjoy. You can find a trainer at a local gym or through your doctor or a friend. Make sure this person understands your goals and can help you create exercise program that you will enjoy and stick with.


American Council on Exercise
American Heart Association


Canada Safety Council
Public Health Agency of Canada


2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. United States Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: Accessed April 23, 2020.
Exercise: how to get started. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Dec 15;74(12):2095-2096. Available at:
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Accessed April 23, 2020.
Last reviewed April 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 4/23/2020

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