nutrition program services home

Physical Activity Strategies for Adults

Easy Ways to Get Moving

  • Park further away from the store. The extra steps will pay off in the long run.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Start with one flight, and as it gets easier, do more.
  • Take a 10 minute walk during your lunch hour.
  • Avoid drive-thru windows.  Walk into the bank or restaurant.
  • If you sit at a desk or computer all day, stand up and move around once every hour.
  • Take a short walk after dinner by yourself or with family or friends.
  • Spend time with you children in ways that require physical activity, such as:
    • Play "catch" or tag.
    • Learn some dance steps or martial arts moves together.
    • Ride bikes together
    • Wash the car or work in the garden together, etc.

Start with something quick and easy

Walk, move around, of stretch for just a few minutes. Try to do this everyday or every other day. Gradually increase exercise time.

Start small: 10 minutes once a week

Schedule a 10 minutes exercise period once a week. Do this for 4 weeks. Find out when exercise fits best into your schedule. Then try to extend to 15 minutes once a week, or do 10 minutes twice a week and gradually increase from there.

Start with games

Bowling, ping pong, horseshoes, golf, miniature golf, pool (billiards), archery, riflery and other games may not burn huge amounts of calories, but they do help people get up from the couch and do something away from the television. Once you are in the habit of spending a certain amount of time each week on games, you can add or substitute other phyical activities.

Choose activities that fit your personality

Give youself time to find out which physical activities you most enjoy. Find out whether you prefer being active by yourself, with others or a little of each. Also, activities can be: sociable, spontaneous, competitive, disciplined, mentally focused, aggressive, relaxed or risk taking. Find the style(s) that suit you best.

Entertain yourself while exercising

Exercise with friends or while watching a favorite television show or listening to music or recorded books.

Do not overdo it!

Warm up and stretch before you exercise and cool down after you finish. Start with low intensity exercises you can comfortably do and set reasonable goals. There is no shame in starting with only one push up, or only one minute of walking or dancing. People with physical limitations or physical pain should consult with their physicians and physical therapists for the best activities and exercise equipment for their needs.

 

How Much Exercise Should I do?

For General Health:

150 minutes per week of moderate to intense exercise.

For example, 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
This recommendation is for general fitness and applies to adults of ALL ages.

 

For Weight Loss

200 - 300 minutes per week of moderate to intense exercise.

For example, 40 - 60 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
Individuals may vary in how much exercise they require to promote weight loss. Note: exercise alone is not an efficient way to lose weight. Dieting alone is more efficient, and dieting plus exercise is most efficient.

For Weight Maintenance After Weight Loss:

270 - 420 minutes per week of moderate exercise.

For example, 45 - 60 minutes per day, 6 - 7 days per week.
People who have lost weight and kept it off for one year or more are active almost every day.

Reference: Physical Activity and Public Health: Updated Recommendations for Adults, American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association, 2007.

Build Up To 30 Minutes of Brisk Walking Five Days a Week

 Warm Up TimeFast Walk TimeCool Down TimeTotal Time
Week 1 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 5 min walk slowly 5 min 15 min
Week 2 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 8 min walk slowly 5 min 18 min
Week 3 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 11 min walk slowly 5 min 21 min
Week 4 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 14 min walk slowly 5 min 24 min
Week 5 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 17 min walk slowly 5 min 27 min
Week 6 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 20 min walk slowly 5 min 30 min
Week 7 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 23 min walk slowly 5 min 33 min
Week 8 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 26 min walk slowly 5 min 36 min
Week 9 walk slowly 5 min walk briskly 30 min walk slowly 5 min 40 min

Moderate Physical Activity

  • Walking two miles in 35 - 40 minutes
  • Walking the stairs for 15 minutes
  • Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30 - 40 minutes
  • Washing and waxing a car for 45 - 60 minutes
  • Washing windows of floors for 45 - 60 minutes
  • Gardening for 30 - 45 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Shoveling snow for 15 minutes

Moderate Physical Activity

  • Walking two miles in 35 - 40 minutes
  • Walking the stairs for 15 minutes
  • Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30 - 40 minutes
  • Washing and waxing a car for 45 - 60 minutes
  • Washing windows of floors for 45 - 60 minutes
  • Gardening for 30 - 45 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Shoveling snow for 15 minutes

   

Ready To Get Into Shape? These suggestions may help:

Beginners: If you have not been exercising at all:

  • Walk for 5 - 10 minutes at a time.
  • Aim to accumulate 30 minutes of movement each day.
  • Work up to 30 minutes in a row of walking (or other exercise) 2 - 4 times per week.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after exercising by stretching.

Intermediates: If you already exercise twice a week:

  • Add brief, aerobic intervals to your exercise sessions. For example, after every 5 minutes of walking or other low intensity exercise, add 30 seconds of jogging, jumping rope, jumping jacks or stair climbing.
  • Add a strength training session to your workout once a week. For example, do sit-ups, push ups, lunges, squats, etc. You may also use free weights or gym equipment. Start with 1 - 3 repetitions of each exercise and work your way up to 12 - 15 repetitions.

Advanced: If you already exercise three times per week:

  • Increase the intensity and / or overall time spent on your current activities.
  • Increase the number of aerobic intervals in your workout. Do 30 second aerobic intervals after every 2 - 3 minutes of walking or other lower intensity activity.
  • Do strength training 2 - 3 times per week.
  • Consider playing a sport such as basketball, racketball, etc. with others once a week.

 

Different Kinds of Physical Activity - Adults

This is not a complete list. Use it to start thinking about activities you might enjoy.

Games and Leisurely Sports

  • Ping Pong
  • Shuffleboard
  • Pool (Billiards)
  • Table hockey
  • Golf
  • Miniature golf
  • Riflery
  • Archery
  • Bowling
  • Horseshoes

Activities That Can Be Done at Low Intensity

  • Walking
  • Aerobics
  • Pilates
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Ice skating
  • Stationary bicycling
  • Tai Chi
  • Badminton