Apr 15, 2008 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Physical Activity: What You Should Know

Am Fam Physician. 2008 Apr 15;77(8):1138.

See related article on physical activity counseling.

Why should I get regular physical activity?

Getting regular physical activity can help keep your heart healthy, prevent some diseases, and make depression better. It also can help you stay at a healthy weight and give you more energy.

How much physical activity do I need?

Most people should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on at least five days of the week. You can split up the 30 minutes of physical activity into 10-minute blocks. Moderate-intensity activity makes you feel like you feel when you walk fast. If moderate-intensity is too hard, you can start slower and work up to it.

What types of physical activity should I do?

There are many activities that you can do at a moderate level to stay healthy:

  • Walking

  • Dancing

  • Bicycling

  • Aerobics

  • Gardening

  • Household chores

  • Actively playing with your children

You can also work physical activity into what you already do. For example, walk to the store instead of driving, use a push instead of a riding lawnmower, or park further from entrances.

How do I get started?

Making a plan can help you get started. Think about what activities you would enjoy and when and where you can do them. Some people like to do physical activities by themselves. Others like to do physical activity with a partner or in an organized group. Consider planning active time with family members to set a good example, or help them get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to increase your physical activity.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Heart Association

Web site: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200013

Active Log

Web site: http://www.activelog.com

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/everyone.htm

Spark People

Web site: http://www.sparkpeople.com

ShapeUp America

Web site: http://www.shapeup.org

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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