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Ways to Be Active

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults, 60 minutes for children, at least five days a week. Sound daunting? It's much easier than you think, regardless of your current activity level. There are plenty of ways to get moving and some may even surprise you! It's time to be active, get healthy, and have some fun!

Being active doesn't require joining a gym. Look for ways to increase your heart rate during your daily routine. Walk or cycle instead of taking the car or bus, or you can choose the stairs over the escalator or elevator. Try these ways to be active and start working towards your fitness goals to jumpstart or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

There are many health benefits to being active for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, but you should consult your physician before starting a new activity program. If you haven't been active in a while, start slowly and build up. Do what you can; some physical activity is better than none.

Keep track of all your activities by starting to earn your PALA+.

Different Types of Physical Activity

Aerobic activities can range from 60-85% of your maximum heart rate.

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. Aerobic activities can be moderate or vigorous in their intensity levels, and range from 60-85% of your maximum heart rate. A general guide to use: For moderate activities you can talk, but you can't sing. With vigorous activities, you can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger.
  • Bone-strengthening activities make your bones stronger and are especially important for children and adolescents, as well as older adults.
  • Balance and stretching activities enhance physical stability and flexibility, which reduce the risk of injuries.

Add Extra Steps to Your Day

Walk the dog with the whole family.

Instead of calling friends, take a walk together to catch up.

Park your car as far away as possible so you have to walk a longer distance from your destination. Even better, walk or cycle to run errands in your community.

Walk up and down the field while watching your child(ren) play sports.

Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk the rest of the way.

Replace a coffee break with an outdoor walk—or take the coffee with you on your walk.

Walk the golf course instead of using a cart.

Choose the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

Keep Moving at Home & In the Community

Keep a list of quick activities, like squats or stretches, near the remote so that you can be active during commercial breaks.

Wash the car.

Shovel snow, rake leaves, or do yard work.

Plant and care for a vegetable garden (then cook the vegetables for healthy meals).

Find your inner child—build a snowman or rake the leaves then jump in your piles.

Start your day with a morning stretch or end your day with calming yoga.

Sign up for dance lessons with a friend.

Experience the Great Outdoors and go for a hike or bike ride.

Grab a basketball or football for a quick pick-up game at a local park.

Join a community sports team or league, like soccer, rugby, or softball.

Participate in a local road race.

Go swimming at your local recreation center.

Staying Active for Individuals with Disabilities

  • Children and adults with disabilities can gain numerous mental and physical benefits from being physically active on a regular basis including: reduced risk of chronic and secondary conditions, improved self-esteem and greater social interaction.
  • Keep in mind that individuals with disabilities are just as capable and worthy of being active as someone without a disability and the activity does not have to be strenuous to provide positive benefits.
  • Look for opportunities to be active in inclusive programs that are already in place at your local community and recreation centers, health and fitness facilities, public agencies and park departments, or sports clubs.
  • Having fun while being active is the key! Find activities that you enjoy and include your friends and family in the action.
  • Track your progress and earn recognition for being physically active by starting to earn your PALA+!
  • Always consult your personal doctor before beginning any physical activity or exercise program.
  • Learn more about opportunities to be active and earn your PALA+ with I Can Do It, You Can Do It!

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Content created by President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition
Content last reviewed on January 26, 2017