What are the best physical activities to try?

For most healthy women, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity for at least 75 minutes a week — preferably spread throughout the week. In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week.

Consider the options and their benefits:

  • Aerobic activity. Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Try brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming or water aerobics. If you're a beginner, start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the intensity and duration.
  • Strength training. Regular strength training can help you reduce body fat, strengthen your muscles and burn calories more efficiently. Try weight machines, hand-held weights or resistance tubing. Choose a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions. Gradually increase the resistance level as you get stronger.
  • Stretching. Stretching can help improve flexibility. Set aside time to stretch after each workout, when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching.
  • Stability and balance. Balance exercises improve stability and can help prevent falls. Try simple exercises, such as standing on one leg while brushing your teeth. Activities such as tai chi also can be helpful.

How can you stay motivated?

Set realistic, achievable goals. Rather than vowing to exercise more, for example, commit to a daily 30-minute walk after dinner. Frequently update your goals. Teaming up with someone — such as a partner, friend or neighbor — can make a difference, too.

Remember, you don't have to go to the gym to exercise. Many activities, such as dancing and gardening, also can improve your health. Whatever you choose, take time to warm up and cool down safely.

May 25, 2016 See more In-depth