Health Topics

Fitness and exercise

Exercise for Seniors
National Library of Medicine
Fitness
Seniors' Fitness

Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. There are four main types and each type is different. Doing them all will give you more benefits.

  • Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. Brisk walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, and biking are examples.
  • Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. Lifting weights or using a resistance band can build strength.
  • Balance exercises help prevent falls
  • Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber

If you have not been active, you can start slowly and work up to your goal. How much exercise you need depends on your age and health. Check with your health care provider on what is right for you.

NIH: National Institute on Aging


Exercise
Seniors
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. There are four main types and each type is different. Doing them all ...
Exercise for Children
National Library of Medicine
Fitness

Like adults, kids need exercise. Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Regular exercise has many benefits for children. It can help them

  • Feel less stressed
  • Feel better about themselves
  • Feel more ready to learn in school
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Build and keep healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Sleep better at night

As kids spend more time watching TV, they spend less time running and playing. Parents should limit TV, video game and computer time. Parents can set a good example by being active themselves. Exercising together can be fun for everyone. Competitive sports can help kids stay fit. Walking or biking to school, dancing, bowling and yoga are some other ways for kids to get exercise.


Youth Sports
Exercise
Children and Teenagers
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Like adults, kids need exercise. Most children need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Regular exercise has many benefits for children. It can ...
Exercise and Physical Fitness
National Library of Medicine
Fitness
Physical Fitness
Weight Training

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercise; it is important that you pick the right types for you. Most people benefit from a combination of them:

  • Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.
  • Strength, or resistance training, exercises make your muscles stronger. Some examples are lifting weights and using a resistance band.
  • Balance exercises can make it easier to walk on uneven surfaces and help prevent falls. To improve your balance, try tai chi or exercises like standing on one leg.
  • Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Yoga and doing various stretches can make you more flexible.

Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first. But you can start slowly, and break your exercise time into chunks. Even doing ten minutes at a time is fine. You can work your way up to doing the recommended amount of exercise. How much exercise you need depends on your age and health.

Other things that you can do to make the most of your workouts include

  • Choosing activities that work all the different parts of the body, including your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis). Good core strength improves balance and stability and helps to prevent lower back injury.
  • Choosing activities that you enjoy. It's easier to make exercise a regular part of your life if you have fun doing it.
  • Exercising safely, with proper equipment, to prevent injuries. Also, listen to your body and don't overdo it.
  • Giving yourself goals. The goals should challenge you, but also be realistic. It's also helpful to reward yourself when you reach your goals. The rewards could be something big, like new workout gear, or something smaller, such as movie tickets.

Exercise
Physical Fitness
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing ...
Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle
National Library of Medicine
Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting Disease
What is an inactive lifestyle?

Being a couch potato. Not exercising. A sedentary or inactive lifestyle. You have probably heard of all of these phrases, and they mean the same thing: a lifestyle with a lot of sitting and lying down, with very little to no exercise.

In the United States and around the world, people are spending more and more time doing sedentary activities. During our leisure time, we are often sitting: while using a computer or other device, watching TV, or playing video games. Many of our jobs have become more sedentary, with long days sitting at a desk. And the way most of us get around involves sitting - in cars, on buses, and on trains.

How does an inactive lifestyle affect your body?

When you have an inactive lifestyle,

  • You burn fewer calories. This makes you more likely to gain weight.
  • You may lose muscle strength and endurance, because you are not using your muscles as much
  • Your bones may get weaker and lose some mineral content
  • Your metabolism may be affected, and your body may have more trouble breaking down fats and sugars
  • Your immune system may not work as well
  • You may have poorer blood circulation
  • Your body may have more inflammation
  • You may develop a hormonal imbalance
What are the health risks of an inactive lifestyle?

Having an inactive lifestyle can be one of the causes of many chronic diseases. By not getting regular exercise, you raise your risk of

  • Obesity
  • Heart diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain cancers, including colon, breast, and uterine cancers
  • Osteoporosis and falls
  • Increased feelings of depression and anxiety

Having a sedentary lifestyle can also raise your risk of premature death. And the more sedentary you are, the higher your health risks are.

How can I get started with exercise?

If you have been inactive, you may need to start slowly. You can keep adding more exercise gradually. The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do what you can. Getting some exercise is always better than getting none. Eventually, your goal can be to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age and health.

There are many different ways to get exercise; it is important to find the types that are best for you. You can also try to add activity to your life in smaller ways, such as at home and at work.

How can I be more active around the house?

There are some ways you can be active around your house:

  • Housework, gardening, and yard work are all physical work. To increase the intensity, you could try doing them at a more vigorous pace.
  • Keep moving while you watch TV. Lift hand weights, do some gentle yoga stretches, or pedal an exercise bike. Instead of using the TV remote, get up and change the channels yourself.
  • Work out at home with a workout video (on your TV or on the internet)
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood. It can be more fun if you walk your dog, walk your kids to school, or walk with a friend.
  • Stand up when talking on the phone
  • Get some exercise equipment for your home. Treadmills and elliptical trainers are great, but not everyone has the money or space for one. Less expensive equipment such as yoga balls, exercise mats, stretch bands, and hand weights can help you get a workout at home too.
How can I be more active at work?

Most of us sit when we are working, often in front of a computer. In fact, less than 20 percent of Americans have physically active jobs. It can be challenging to fit physical activity into your busy workday, but here are some tips to help you get moving:

  • Get up from your chair and move around at least once an hour
  • Stand when you are talking on the phone
  • Find out whether your company can get you a stand-up or treadmill desk
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Use your break or part of your lunch hour to walk around the building
  • Stand up and walk to a colleague's office instead of sending an email
  • Have "walking" or standing meetings with co-workers instead of sitting in a conference room

Sedentary Behavior
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
What is an inactive lifestyle? Being a couch potato. Not exercising. A sedentary or inactive lifestyle. You have probably heard of all of these phrases, ...
Benefits of Exercise
National Library of Medicine
Exercise Benefits

We have all heard it many times before - regular exercise is good for you, and it can help you lose weight. But if you are like many Americans, you are busy, you have a sedentary job, and you haven't yet changed your exercise habits. The good news is that it's never too late to start. You can start slowly, and find ways to fit more physical activity into your life. To get the most benefit, you should try to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age. If you can do it, the payoff is that you will feel better, help prevent or control many diseases, and likely even live longer.

What are the health benefits of exercise?

Regular exercise and physical activity may

  • Help you control your weight. Along with diet, exercise plays an important role in controlling your weight and preventing obesity. To maintain your weight, the calories you eat and drink must equal the energy you burn. To lose weight, you must use more calories than you eat and drink.
  • Reduce your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation. The increased blood flow raises the oxygen levels in your body. This helps lower your risk of heart diseases such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and heart attack. Regular exercise can also lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
  • Help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And if you already have one of those diseases, exercise can help you to manage it.
  • Help you quit smoking. Exercise may make it easier to quit smoking by reducing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit the weight you might gain when you stop smoking.
  • Improve your mental health and mood. During exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.
  • Help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles. Regular exercise can help kids and teens build strong bones. Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength.
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast , uterine, and lung cancer.
  • Reduce your risk of falls. For older adults, research shows that doing balance and muscle-strengthening activities in addition to moderate-intensity aerobic activity can help reduce your risk of falling.
  • Improve your sleep. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • Improve your sexual health. Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. For those who already have ED, exercise may help improve their sexual function. In women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.
  • Increase your chances of living longer. Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.
How can I make exercise a part of my regular routine?
  • Make everyday activities more active. Even small changes can help. You can take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk down the hall to a coworker's office instead of sending an email. Wash the car yourself. Park further away from your destination.
  • Be active with friends and family. Having a workout partner may make you more likely to enjoy exercise. You can also plan social activities that involve exercise. You might also consider joining an exercise group or class, such as a dance class, hiking club, or volleyball team.
  • Keep track of your progress. Keeping a log of your activity or using a fitness tracker may help you set goals and stay motivated.
  • Make exercise more fun. Try listening to music or watching TV while you exercise. Also, mix things up a little bit - if you stick with just one type of exercise, you might get bored. Try doing a combination of activities.
  • Find activities that you can do even when the weather is bad.You can walk in a mall, climb stairs, or work out in a gym even if the weather stops you from exercising outside.

Physical Fitness
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
... involve exercise. You might also consider joining an exercise group or class, such as a dance class, hiking club, or volleyball team. Keep track of your progress. Keeping a log of your activity or using a fitness tracker may help you set goals and stay ...
Sports Fitness
National Library of Medicine
Fitness
Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Weight Training

Sports can be a great way to get in shape or stay that way. Having a specific goal can be a great motivator. Physically, you need strength and endurance. Your training will vary with your sport. You would not train the same way for pole vaulting as for swimming. You might, however, cross train. Cross training simply means that you include a variety of fitness activities in your program. Research shows that cross training builds stronger bones.

Remember to listen to your body. If you frequently feel exhausted or you are in pain, you may be overdoing it. Injuries can be the result. And be sure that you use your body and your equipment safely. What you eat and drink is also important. Water is the most important nutrient for active people. Drink it before, during and after workouts.


Sports Medicine
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Sports can be a great way to get in shape or stay that way. Having a specific goal can be a great motivator. Physically, you need strength and endurance. Your ...
How Much Exercise Do I Need?
National Library of Medicine
Exercise: How Much?

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits. It can improve your overall health and fitness and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases.To get the most benefit, here's how much physical activity you should get:

For adults:

Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Or you could do a combination of the two.

  • Try to spread your physical activity out over several days of the week. That's better than trying to do it all in one or two days.
  • Some days you may not have long blocks of time to do physical activity. You can try splitting it up into segments of ten minutes or more.
  • Aerobic activities include walking fast, jogging, swimming, and biking
  • Moderate intensity means that while you are doing that activity, you should be able to say a few words in a row but not sing
  • Vigorous intensity means that while you are doing that activity, you won't be able to say more than a few words without stopping for a breath

Also, do strengthening activities twice per week.

  • Strengthening activities include lifting weights, working with exercise bands, and doing sit-ups and pushups
  • Choose activities that work all the different parts of the body - your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. You should repeat exercises for each muscle group 8 to 12 times per session.
For preschool-aged children (ages 3-5):

Preschool children should be physically active throughout the day, to help with their growth and development.

They should get both structured and unstructured active play. Structured play has a goal and is directed by an adult. Examples include playing a sport or a game. Unstructured play is creative free play, such as playing on a playground.

For children and teens:

Get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. Most of it should be moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

  • Activities should vary and be a good fit for the child's age and physical development
  • Moderate-intensity aerobic activities include walking, running, skipping, playing on the playground, playing basketball, and biking

Also, try to get each of these at least 3 days a week: vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, and bone-strengthening activity.

  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include running, doing jumping jacks, and fast swimming
  • Muscle-strengthening activities include playing on playground equipment, playing tug-of-war, and doing pushups and pull-ups
  • Bone-strengthening activities include hopping, skipping, doing jumping jacks, playing volleyball, and working with resistance bands
For seniors, pregnant women, and people with chronic health problems:

Seniors, pregnant women, and people who have special health needs should check with their health care provider on how much physical activity they should get and what types of activities they should do.

Exercise tips:

People who are trying to lose weight may need to get more physical activity. They also need to adjust their diet, so they are burning more calories than they eat and drink.

If you have been inactive, you may need to start slowly. You can keep adding more gradually. The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do what you can. Getting some physical activity is always better than getting none.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Physical Fitness
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits. It can improve your overall health and fitness and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases.To get the most benefit, here's how much physical ...
Sports Injuries
National Library of Medicine

Exercising is good for you, but sometimes you can injure yourself when you play sports or exercise. Accidents, poor training practices, or improper gear can cause them. Some people get hurt because they are not in shape. Not warming up or stretching enough can also lead to injuries.

The most common sports injuries are

  • Sprains and strains
  • Knee injuries
  • Swollen muscles
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shin bone
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations

If you get hurt, stop playing. Continuing to play or exercise can cause more harm. Treatment often begins with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Other possible treatments include pain relievers, keeping the injured area from moving, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases


Athletic Injuries
Injuries and Wounds
Wellness and Lifestyle
Fitness and Exercise
Exercising is good for you, but sometimes you can injure yourself when you play sports or exercise. Accidents, poor training practices, or improper gear can cause ...
Sports Safety
National Library of Medicine
Bicycle Safety
Recreational Safety

Playing sports can be fun, but it can also be dangerous if you are not careful. You can help prevent injuries by

  • Getting a physical to make sure you are healthy before you start playing your sport
  • Wearing the right shoes, gear, and equipment
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Warming up and stretching

If you have already hurt yourself playing a sport, make sure you recover completely before you start up again. If possible, protect the injured part of your body with padding, a brace, or special equipment. When you do start playing again, start slowly.


Safety
Sports
Safety Issues
Fitness and Exercise
Playing sports can be fun, but it can also be dangerous if you are not careful. You can help prevent injuries by Getting a physical to make sure you are healthy ...
Heat Illness
National Library of Medicine
Heat Exhaustion
Hot (Temperature)
Sunstroke

Your body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially when it is very humid, sweating just isn't enough to cool you off. Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness.

Most heat illnesses happen when you stay out in the heat too long. Exercising and working outside in high heat can also lead to heat illness. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are most at risk. Taking certain medicines or drinking alcohol can also raise your risk.

Heat-related illnesses include

  • Heat stroke - a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes. Symptoms include dry skin, a rapid, strong pulse, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. If you see any of these signs, get medical help right away.
  • Heat exhaustion - an illness that can happen after several days of exposure to high temperatures and not enough fluids. Symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing, and a fast, weak pulse. If it is not treated, it can turn into heat stroke.
  • Heat cramps - muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise. You usually get them in your abdomen, arms, or legs.
  • Heat rash - skin irritation from excessive sweating. It is more common in young children.

You can lower your risk of heat illness by drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, replacing lost salt and minerals, and limiting your time in the heat.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Heat Stress Disorders
Injuries and Wounds
Symptoms
Your body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially when it is very humid, sweating just isn't enough to cool you off. Your body temperature ...