It's best to increase your activity in all three areas of fitness:
flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle fitness. You can work on all three areas
without leaving home.
If you have heart problems or other health issues, or
if you have not been active for a long time, check with your doctor before you start
a new activity.
Flexibility and stretching
Flexibility is the ability
to move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. Stretching is
an activity that helps you to be more flexible. It's also something you can easily
do at home.
Stretching at home
Warm up your muscles slightly
before you stretch them. Walk or do some other light aerobic exercise for a few minutes,
and then start stretching.
Ease yourself into the stretch, relax, and
don't push or bounce. You should feel a stretch, but not pain, in the muscle.
as you do the stretch. While you hold the stretch, inhale deeply.
your eyes while you stretch. It helps you relax.
Take a moment
to enjoy the good, warm feeling that comes after a good stretch.
DVDs can teach you more about stretching various muscles.
Aerobic fitness (endurance)
Aerobic fitness means increasing how well your
body uses oxygen. Look for activities that make your heart beat faster and make you
Experts suggest that you do at least 2½ hours of moderate activity
a week or at least 1¼ hours of vigorous activity a week. It's fine to do blocks of
10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
activities you can do from home
a brisk walk.
Ride a stationary bike about 10 to 12 miles per hour.
a lawn mower.
Sweep, perhaps to lively music.
leaves or shovel snow.
Play actively with your children.
Jog or run.
Ride a stationary bike at least
12 miles per hour.
Play a basketball game in the driveway.
aerobic dance DVD.
Use a stair-climber or skiing machine.
Muscle fitness (strength)
Muscle fitness means building
stronger muscles and increasing how long you can use them. You can strengthen a muscle
by doing any activity that pushes or pulls against that muscle.
that you should work on strengthening your muscles at least 2 times a week. Focus
on the large muscle groups in your arms, legs, back, chest, and core.
your muscles at home
Do familiar exercises, like push-ups and leg
Use rubber tubing or stretchable bands to add resistance as
your muscles work against the elastic.
Use free weights ("dumbbells")
or a weight-training machine. If you don't have free weights, you can lift soup cans,
water bottles, or books.
Do housework and yard work, such as scrubbing
the bathtub, washing walls, tilling the garden, or pulling weeds, on a regular basis.
your core. Pull in your belly. Imagine pulling your belly button back toward your
spine. Hold this for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax. Breathe normally as you hold the
muscle tight. Repeat. You can do this exercise anywhere, in any position.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve
Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health
Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE.
Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Martin
J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD
- Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family
Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.
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