Fitness basics

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things for health. Physical activity can lower the risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Exercise can improve balance and the ability to move smoothly, called coordination. It can help with weight loss and boost self-esteem.

The rewards of exercise are for everyone, no matter the age, sex or physical ability.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines:

  • Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Or get at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You also can get an equal combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aim to spread out this exercise over a few days or more in a week.

    For even greater health benefit the guidelines suggest getting 300 minutes a week or more of moderate aerobic activity. Exercising this much may help with weight loss or keeping off lost weight. But even small amounts of physical activity can be helpful. Being active for short periods of time during the day can add up and have health benefits.

  • Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. One set of each exercise is enough for health and fitness benefits. Use a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

Regular exercise can help you control your weight. It can lower your risk of heart disease and some cancers. And it can make your bones and muscles stronger.

If you haven't exercised for a while and you have health concerns, you might want to talk to your health care professional before starting a new fitness routine.

When making your exercise plan, keep your fitness goals in mind. Think about what you like and don't like. Think about what keeps you from exercising. Then find ways to keep your fitness program on track.

Starting a fitness program doesn't have to overwhelm you. Start slowly and build up over time. By planning and pacing yourself, you can make fitness a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.

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March 29, 2024

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