Getting Started with Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight

Should I take precautions before becoming more active?

People with chronic diseases should talk to their doctor about appropriate types and amounts of physical activity. Examples of chronic diseases are heart conditions, arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Get Motivated!

Image: Two women walking

If you have not been physically active in a while, you may wonder how to get started again. Here are some tips:

  • Look for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and to increase active time. For example, instead of watching TV, take a walk after dinner.
  • Set aside specific times to make physical activity part of your daily or weekly routine.
  • Start with activities, locations, and times you enjoy. For example, you might like morning walks in your neighborhood; others might prefer an exercise class at a health club after work.
  • Try activities with friends or family members for motivation and mutual encouragement.
  • Start slowly and work your way up to more physically challenging activities. For many people, walking is a particularly good place to begin.
  • For example, you could break the 30-minute a day recommendation into three 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions. Just make sure the shorter sessions are at least 10 minutes long.

For many people, walking offers a great way to become more active. For some ideas on how to begin, see the walking plans at the following sites:

Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles to Physical Activity

As you just start, the obstacles might seem difficult to overcome. The following table offers common obstacles and strategies for overcoming them.

Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles to Physical Activity
Obstacle Try This
I don’t have time to be physically active. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
I don’t have anyone to go with me. Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club.
I’m so tired when I get home from work. Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
I have so much on my “to do” list already, how can I do physical activity too? Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule by writing it on your calendar. Keep the appointment with yourself.
I’ll probably hurt myself if I try to be more physically active. Consult with a health professional or educational material to learn how to exercise appropriately for your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
I’m not coordinated. I can’t learn something new at my age! Skip the dance classes if they require coordination; choose activities such as walking or biking instead.
My job requires me to be on the road; it’s impossible for me to exercise. Stay in places with swimming pools or exercise facilities. Or find an exercise you enjoy and be sure you can access it on a mobile device wherever you are.
I have small children and it’s impossible to have time to myself for exercise. Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbor, or family member who also has small children. As children get older, family bike rides or walks might be another option.
Adapted from Physical Activity for Everyone: Making Physical Activity Part of Your Life: Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity.
Want to learn more?

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