Quick Tips: Getting in Shape Without Spending Money
When you stay active, you feel better and have more energy for
work and leisure time. You're more able to do the things you enjoy, like
playing with children, gardening, dancing, or biking.
Staying fit helps you sleep
better, handle stress better, and keep your mind sharp. It's good for your
heart, lungs, bones, and joints. And it lowers your risk for heart attack,
diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
And although it's easy to spend a
lot of money on sports and activities that help keep you in shape, it's just as
easy to get into shape and stay there without spending any money at all.
Remember to work on all three types of fitness: flexibility, muscle
strength, and aerobic fitness.
Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes before you stretch them. Warm up by doing aerobic activity such as walking or jogging.
Stretch all your major groups of
muscles. These include the muscles of your arms, your back, your hips, the
front and back of your thighs, and your calves.
Stretch slowly and regularly to help yourself be more flexible. Combining stretching with other fitness
activities is best.
Try to hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
Do some stretches first
thing in the morning.
Take a "stretch break" instead of a coffee
break at work.
Try activities that include stretching, such as dance, martial arts (aikido or karate), tai chi, or yoga.
Do housework and yard work on a regular basis: Scrub the
bathtub, wash walls, till the garden, or pull weeds.
muscle-conditioning exercises such as push-ups, leg lifts, and other familiar
Try muscle-strengthening exercises using weights. You
can use cans of food instead of buying dumbbells.
say to do either of these things:
Moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week.
Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or shooting
baskets. But any activities—including daily chores—that raise your heart rate
and increase your breathing can be included.
Vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week.
Vigorous activity means things like jogging, cycling fast, or playing a
These ordinary activities cost nothing and all count as
Walking briskly to work or to do errands
Pushing a lawn mower
(perhaps to fast-paced music)
Raking leaves or shoveling snow
Playing actively with your children
Walking the dog
If you need more structure for your exercise but don't want
to spend money for a class, check out exercise DVDs from the library.
suggestions at work:
Use your morning commute to get in some extra
walking. Park several blocks away, or get off the bus a few stops earlier.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, at least for a few
Suggest holding meetings with colleagues during a walk
inside or outside the building.
Go the extra distance when
possible: Get your coffee on another floor (take the stairs) or use the
restroom that's the farthest from your office.
Stand and do simple
stretches while you make phone calls. A speakerphone may help.
you need to speak to a colleague, walk to that person's office rather than
using e-mail or the phone.
Use your lunch hour for a workout: Take
a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride. But don't skip lunch. Eat it at your desk while
you check your mail or listen to phone messages.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.