The World Health Organization suggests setting up a regular routine to be active every day, by planning a physical activity or exercise break. More than ever before, it is important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible. Even a short break from sitting, by doing 3-5 minutes of physical movement, such as walking or stretching, will help ease muscle strain, relieve mental tension and improve blood circulation and muscle activity. Aim to take these breaks every 20-30 minutes. Regular physical activity can also help to give the day a routine and be a way of staying in contact with family and friends.
10 Tips: Be an Active Family
Physical activity is important for children and adults of all ages. Being active as a family can benefit everyone. Adults need 2½ hours a week of physical activity, and children need 60 minutes a day. Follow these tips to add more activity to your family’s busy schedule.
- Set specific activity times
Determine time slots throughout the week when the whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activity. Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.
- Plan ahead and track your progress
Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let the kids help in planning the activities. Allow them to check it off after completing each activity.
- Include work around the house
Involve the kids in yard work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with raking, weeding, planting, or vacuuming.
- Use what is available
Plan activities that require little or no equipment or facilities. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, playing tag, and dancing. Find out what programs your community recreation center offers for free or minimal charge.
- Build new skills
Enroll the kids in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics, dance, or tennis. Help them practice. This will keep things fun and interesting, and introduce new skills!
- Plan for all weather conditions
Choose some activities that do not depend on the weather conditions. Try mall walking, indoor swimming, or active video games. Enjoy outdoor activities as a bonus whenever the weather is nice.
- Turn off the TV
Set a rule that no one can spend longer than 2 hours per day playing video games, watching TV, and using the computer (except for school work). Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music, or go for a walk.
- Start small
Begin by introducing one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.
- Include other families
Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course, sign up for family programs at the YMCA, or join a recreational club.
- Treat the family with fun physical activity
When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park, or lake to treat the family.
10 Tips: Be Active Adults
Tips to help adults include physical activity into their lifestyle
Being physically active is important for your health. Adults who are physically active are less likely to develop some chronic diseases than adults who are inactive. Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from a physically active lifestyle.
- Start activities slowly and build up over time
If you are just starting physical activity, build up slowly. This will help to prevent injury. After a few weeks, increase how often and how long you are active.
- Get your heart pumping
For health benefits, do at least 2½ hours each week of physical activity that requires moderate effort. A few examples include brisk walking, biking, swimming, and skating. Spread activities over the week, but do them at least 10 minutes at a time.
- Strength-train for healthy muscles and bones
Do strengthening activities twice a week. Activities that build strength include lifting weights, doing push-ups and sit-ups, working with resistance bands, or heavy gardening.
- Make active choices throughout the day
Every little bit of activity can add up and doing something is better than nothing. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a 10-minute walk on your lunch break, or park further away from work and walk.
- Be active your way
Mix it up — there are endless ways to be active. They include walking, biking, dancing, martial arts, gardening, and playing ball. Try out different activities to see what you like best and to add variety.
- Use the buddy system
Activities with friends or family are more enjoyable than doing them alone. Join a walking group, attend fitness classes at a gym, or play with the kids outside. Build a support network — your buddies will encourage you to keep being active.
- Set goals and track your progress
Plan your physical activity ahead of time and keep records. It’s a great way to meet your goals.
- Add on to your active time
Once you get used to regular physical activity, try to increase your weekly active time. The more time you spend being physically active, the more health benefits you will receive.
- Increase your effort
Add more intense activities once you have been moderately active for a while. You can do this by turning a brisk walk into a jog, swimming or biking faster, playing soccer, and participating in aerobic dance.
- Have fun!
Physical activity shouldn’t be a chore. It can help you feel better about yourself and the way you live your life. Choose activities that you enjoy and that fit your lifestyle.
World Health Organization – working for better health for everyone, everywhere.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation – provides free, evidence-based resources to support the physical, social and emotional health of children and their caregivers.
The Cooper Institute – promotes life-long health and wellness worldwide through research, education and advocacy. By improving public health, the Institute helps people lead longer, healthier lives now and #WELLintothefuture
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.
National Institute of Health – Information on how exercise and physical activity can help you stay healthy as you age.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Physical activity basics.
U.S. Department of Agriculture – Information and resources related to physical activity and weight management.
American Heart Association – Join them for a #MoveMore Party!
MedlinePlus – U.S. National Library of Medicine
Gundersen Health System – Gentle Yoga – A Place to Begin (video)
Mayo Clinic Health System – Learn ways to get and stay physically fit