Get moving in 2024.
Movement and exercise benefits both your physical and mental health.
Many people avoid exercise because they think they are too busy or lack the athletic ability to be successful. Making excuses is often easier than taking the first step towards a healthier you. Just as your daily routine includes eating and sleeping, it should also include some kind of physical activity.
Daily physical activity helps you maintain and improve your health. Adults 18-64 should average 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your breathing and heart rates. These include:
- Walking briskly or jogging
- Yard work such as pushing a mower or raking
- Climbing hills or stairs
- Playing games such as pickleball, tennis or basketball
These types of activities help improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system.
Some of the key benefits of exercise include:
- Weight control: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more activity you do, the more calories you burn. To help shed excess weight, it is a good idea to combine physical movement with a healthy diet.
- Reduced health risks: Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a number of health problems. These include heart disease and stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer.
- Stronger bones and muscles: Strong muscles help protect the bones and joints that support your body, which can also help with balance and lower your risk of falls or injuries from falls. Activities that help you increase or maintain you muscle mass and strength, like resistance training or lifting weights, help ensure you can continue to do daily activities and be physically active.
- Improved mental health: Physical activity helps improve your mood and emotional well-being. It can also increase your energy level while reducing feelings of depression and stress. Regular physical activity can help keep your cognitive skills sharp and help you sleep better.
- Lessen the impact of arthritis: Low-impact exercises such as walking, biking and swimming can help reduce pain and improve quality of life for people with arthritis. Depending on how your body reacts, you may need to modify your activity to avoid pain, stiffness and fatigue.
Before you start a new exercise routine, consider these S.M.A.R.T. tips:
- Start low, go slow. If you are just starting out or increasing your activity, pay attention to how your body responds. It is best to take small steps to avoid injury.
- Modify activity if you feel pain. If one activity causes discomfort, try something different so you can stay active. Consistency is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
- Activities should be joint friendly, especially when starting out. Look for things that have low risk of injury like walking, biking and swimming.
- Recognize safe places and ways to be active. Do not over-extend yourself. If you are just starting out, join an exercise class with an instructor who can help guide you.
- Talk to a health professional or certified exercise specialist. Before beginning any new exercise routine or lifestyle change, make sure you are aware of the potential risks associated with the activity and discuss your plans with your healthcare provider.
The Nashville General Hospital Foundation provides a guide to help you live healthier. This guide includes three simple exercises you can do from home or office and is available as a free download, in English and Spanish, from the Foundation’s website. In addition, you can learn more about the 8 Points of Self-Care by watching this Nashville Public Television video, produced in cooperation with the Nashville General Hospital Foundation.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should talk with your primary care physician or other qualified medical professionals regarding diagnosis and treatment of a health condition.
- cdc.gov, “Benefits of physical activity”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 1, 2023
- cdc.gov, “How Do I Exercise Safely with Arthritis”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 6, 2022
- nia.nih.gov, “Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity”, National Institutes of Health, April 3, 2020