Regular physical activity (exercise) can help lower your risk for many diseases that affect women, including heart disease and stroke. Exercise can also help relieve symptoms of some conditions, such as depression, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Women need to do different types of physical activities to reach or stay at a healthy weight and build strength and endurance.
How can physical activity help my health as I age?
Physical activity can help with your health when you get older. Regular physical activity helps:
- Keep bones strong
- Prevent hip fracture (breaking your hip)
- Decrease pain from arthritis
- Prevent dementia
- Maintain the independence to do basic everyday activities, like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, bathing, and eating
How much physical activity should I do?
Researchers know that the more physical activity you do, the more your health benefits. The more time you spend being active each week, the lower your risk is for dying early.1
The Physical Activity Guidelines suggest that each week, women get at least:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. You know you are doing a moderate-intensity activity when your heart is beating faster but you can still carry on a conversation. Try a brisk, 30-minute walk five times a week.
- 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. You know you are doing a vigorous-intensity physical activity when you are breathing hard and it is difficult to have a conversation. This could be a 40-minute jog or step class twice a week.
- A combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days
You should aim for these amounts, but any physical activity is better than no physical activity. Try to spread your activity out over the week so that you are active on at least three days. You need to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time to get health benefits.
Physical activity should be in addition to the normal activities of daily living, such as cleaning, walking from the parking lot, or taking public transportation.
Can I exercise if I have underweight, overweight, or obesity?
Maybe. People who are underweight due to an eating disorder should not exercise unless their doctor tells them to. Your doctor or nurse can help you develop an exercise plan that is healthy and safe for a person of your current weight.
Women who have overweight or obesity should talk to their doctor or nurse about any concerns they have about beginning an exercise program. For most people, any amount or type of physical activity will help your overall health. Physical activity can also improve muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.
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