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How To Get Active

Increasing your physical exercise is vital to reducing your heart disease risk. It helps you manage your weight, control your cholesterol and blood pressure, and strengthen your heart and lungs. Exercise also reduces the risk and complications of diabetes.

People who are unaccustomed to physical activity may be reluctant to start exercising, even under a doctor's supervision. They may lack confidence or be afraid of pain or injury, or they may feel uncomfortable, especially if they are obese or out of shape.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Break into physical activity by spending more time on your feet. Housework, gardening, mowing the lawn, and dog-walking are just a few activities that can help keep you on the move.

Then start simple activities like walking a 24-minute mile or light swimming and gradually increase the intensity over time. Build exercise into your day-to-day activities. Walk instead of taking the car or bus. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

As physical function and endurance increase, introduce more strenuous exercise such as walking a 15-minute mile, cycling, or rowing. Competitive sports can be enjoyable, but care must be taken to avoid injury, especially if you are older.

Always listen to your body. A certain amount of pain and stiffness is normal, especially when first starting out. If you experience symptoms such as cold sweats, fainting, or chest pain, seek medical assistance immediately.

Take advantage of local parks and pools. Join a health club. Plan your activities and make time for them in advance. Keep a record of the length and intensity of your exercise so that you can track your progress.