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Most Americans aren’t moving enough. Whether due to working in sedentary careers, being strapped for time, or having medical problems that make exercise difficult, this overwhelming lack of activity is scary because it’s leading us to develop otherwise preventable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and health problems related to obesity.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

Generally, healthy adults should aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise or physical activity each day. For normal, healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a few more specific recommendations:

  • Aerobic Exercise– Individuals should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (swimming, walking, mopping, or mowing the lawn) each week, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (running or dancing) weekly, or a combination of both moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. It is also recommended that aerobic exercise be spread throughout the week, rather than getting 75 minutes, two days in a row. The more aerobic activity a person does, the better. You will benefit from this type of movement, even if you can only exercise for five or 10 minutes at a time.
  • Strength Training– The Health and Human Services Department recommends strength training (weightlifting or resistance training) at least twice a week. Work all major muscle groups, using weights and movements that tire muscles after 12 to 15 repetitions.

If you simply cannot achieve the recommended exercise guidelines, any amount of exercise combined with efforts to break up prolonged periods of time spent seated will help you combat the negative metabolic effects of living a sedentary lifestyle. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the back of the parking lot, or set a timer to remind yourself to go for a brisk walk around your office every 20 minutes.

Talk with a Healthcare Professional Before You Start a New Fitness Routine

Yes, exercise is good for you. Although there are basic guidelines for fitness, the amount that’s best for each person depends highly on individual health and a person’s baseline activity level. Before starting a new fitness routine, it’s a smart idea to talk with your doctor or healthcare practitioner to be sure you start moving in a way that’s safe and healthy for you. Take the first steps in your new, more active