Get active with simple strategies
Physical activity is key to a healthy heart — but getting more active isn’t always easy. The trick is to just take the first step, however small it may seem — because even small steps toward being more active can add up to big health benefits over time.
How does physical activity help me stay healthy?
It keeps your heart strong
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity — that’s anything that gets your heart beating faster — improves the blood flow from your heart to the small blood vessels around it. And better blood flow can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. After all, your heart’s a muscle — and just like any other muscle, making it work a little harder makes it stronger over time.
The goal is to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week (that’s 150 minutes total). But keep in mind you can work your way up to that goal — and you can break it up however you want throughout the week!
It lowers your risk of health problems
Physical activity lowers your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers, and many other health problems. It can also help you get to and keep a weight that’s right for you. Keeping a healthy weight can help lower your risk for health problems and help protect your heart.
It helps with pain
Physical activity can ease pain and help you feel better. If you have a long-term health problem that causes you pain, or if you’re recovering from an injury, listen to your body and do what feels right. You can also talk to a health care professional to find activities that work for you.
It can improve your mental health
Being active doesn’t just help your body stay strong — it’s also good for your mental health. Moving your body can relieve stress, lift your mood, and help you sleep better at night.
What if I have a hard time getting active?
Start with just 10 minutes
Start slow and go at your own pace — especially if you haven’t been active lately, or if you have chronic (long-term) pain or other health problems. Even 10 minutes of activity a day has health benefits, and you can build up to more over time. Just do the best you can!
Choose an activity you enjoy
There are tons of ways to get active! Try different options until you find something you enjoy and want to stick with. It could be bike riding, pickle ball, or salsa dancing — whatever works for you! Check out more ways to get moving.
Get active as a group
Invite a friend or family member to be your “activity buddy”. Getting active together is more fun, and you can help each other stay motivated. Some local recreation centers also organize walking groups or offer other ways to get moving as a group.
Remember your heart-health reasons
Write down all the reasons you want to get active on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror. If you’re struggling to get motivated, look at your list to remind yourself what you stand to gain by being active!
Watch: Tips for getting motivated
How can I build more activity into my routine?
Walking is a great way to be active — and you can do it almost anywhere. Try fitting in a walk in the morning or after dinner. You can also invite a friend or family member along and catch up while getting active together!
Get moving while you get things done
Active chores like gardening, vacuuming, washing the car, and raking leaves all count as physical activity.
Watch: Tips for busy days
Add activity to your errands
Use simple tricks to add more movement to your day — for example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away at the grocery store, and use a basket instead of a cart to work out your arm muscles while you shop.
Make a plan
Setting goals for how you want to get active each day of the week can help you build a routine — and stick to it. Use this personalized activity planner to get started.