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Be physically active in the New Year

There is no need to think of strenuous exercise or boring workouts, instead do the fun activities you enjoy and watch the health benefits that follow!

Following holiday celebrations, thoughts often turn to the New Year and getting in shape. The federal 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans can guide and motivate you to get active. Regular physical activity over months and years produces long-term health benefits and reduces the risk of many diseases.

Adults gain substantial health benefits from 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity. Adults should also do activities to strengthen muscles and bones at least 2 days a week.

For most people, light daily activities such as shopping, cooking, or doing the laundry don’t count toward the guidelines. Why? Your body isn’t working hard enough to get your heart rate up.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.

TRY some of these moderate-intensity aerobic activities:

  • Walking fast
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis

Besides aerobic activity, you need to do activities to strengthen your muscles at least 2 days a week. These activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it’s at home or the gym.

TRY some of these muscle-strengthening activities:

  • Heavy yard work (lifting, carrying, and snow shoveling)
  • Push-ups on the floor or wall
  • Sit-ups
  • Working with resistance bands (long rubber strips that stretch)
  • Lifting hand-held weights

Children aged 6 years and older benefit from an hour or more of physical activity every day. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week. The other part of the hour should include weight bearing exercise to strengthen bones and muscles on at least 3 days per week.

ADD more activity

  • Do more by being active longer each time.
  • Do more by being active more often.


  • Team up with a friend to stay motivated and have more fun.
  • Pick activities that you like to do.
  • Track your time and progress to help stay on course.

LEARN more about how to add physical activity to your life

  • Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.
  • Speak to the work site wellness coordinator at your job.
  • Visit the CDC Physical Activity Web site

SUPPORT physical activity in your community by getting involved in local efforts to provide more opportunities for people to be physically active on a daily basis. CDC’s Recommended Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States Adobe PDF file [PDF – 2.65MB] identified some of these strategies communities can use.

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