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Most people know that exercising is good for your health. However, not everyone has the time or energy to exercise. Establishing good heart-healthy habits in children can reduce conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and poor lifestyle habits that lead to heart attacks and strokes later in life.

Everyone should make it a point to do some kind of exercise regularly. Exercise boosts your self-confidence by improving your strength, stamina, flexibility, appearance, and sense of control. Exercise builds muscles and can reshape your body. Physical activity uses up excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat. Muscle cells are eight times more metabolically active than fat cells. So, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate and the easier it will be to lose weight. Eating a sensible diet while exercising also helps you lose weight.

Here are some reasons to exercise and ways you can incorporate exercise into your daily activities.

Before You Begin Exercising

   • Always check with your physician before starting any kind of exercise program.
   • Make sure your activities are compatible for your age and physical condition. Take time to warm up, stretch and cool down.
   • Pick activities that are fun, suit your needs and can be done year-round.
   • If you are participating in a sports activity, make sure you have the right equipment and protective gear.
   • Dress appropriately, comfortably and wear proper shoes.
   • Wear sunscreen at all times when you’re outdoors. Caps, hats, sunglasses and umbrellas can also help protect you from the sun’s damaging effects.
   • Drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated. As you age, your sense of thirst tends to decrease so you cannot reply on your internal sense of thirst.
   • If you go walking, choose a place that has a smooth, soft surface, is away from traffic and is well lit and safe.
   • Find a friend to exercise with and help keep you motivated.

Benefits of Daily Physical Activity

   • Strengthens your heart so your itpumps blood more efficiently and helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
   • Reduces high blood pressure.
   • Reduces the risk of stroke.
   • Reduces the risk of colon cancer by helping to regulate your digestive system.
   • Promotes strong and healthy bones by increasing the circulation and flow of nutrients to your bones which helps decrease the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
   • Increases your energy level.
   • Strengthens your circulatory system and lungs.
   • Helps improve your skin's tone and elasticity.
   • Promotes a younger and healthier body. Regular physical activity can help slow the aging process.
   • Contributes to weight loss and maintenance by increasing your body's metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories), as well as increasing muscle which helps burn fat.
   • Controls blood sugar
   • Physical activity helps maintain the body's glucose levels, important especially for diabetics or those at risk for diabetes.
   • Controls cholesterol
   • Increases the ratio of good cholesterol (HDL) to bad cholesterol (LDL) and also lowers triglycerides.
   • Helps with pain tolerance
   • Helps make pregnancy and childbirth easier.
   • Improves your intellectual capacity
   • By increasing the level of endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, exercise can help alleviate pain, such as PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps. The deep breathing during exercise brings more oxygen to the blood, which relaxes the uterus.
   • Helps reduce physical and emotional stress and alleviate bouts of anxiety or depression.
   • Exercise increases your productivity by helping to clear your head so you can approach your work refreshed and able to concentrate.
   • Stretching exercises help elongate muscles, promote flexibility and reduce the incidence of backaches.
   • Strengthens your immune system over the long term so that you’re less likely to get sick.
   • Relieves constipation by increasing intestinal activity and curbs bloating by increasing perspiration.
   • Improves your sleep by helping you to fall asleep quickly, sleep soundly and awake refreshed.
   • Gives you more energy
   • Better health overall

101 Ways to Get Exercise

  1. Wash your car.
  2. Wash your neighbor’s car.
  3. Water the lawn.
  4. Water your neighbor’s lawn.
  5. Go horseback riding.
  6. Fly a kite.
  7. Play a game of Frisbee.
  8. Join a health club.
  9. Go swimming.
 10. Stretch in the shower. Roll your neck and do shoulder shrugs.
 11. Dust your house.
 12. If you have limited time and dust off photographs, appliances by hand.
 13. Clean your shoes.
 14. Hide your TV remote control and get up to change channels.
 15. Walk in place during TV commercials .
 16. Do sit-ups while watching TV.
 17. Better yet, go for a walk instead of watching TV.
 18. Draw a hopscotch pattern using sidewalk chalk on your sidewalk and hop to and from your house when you get the mail or newspaper.
 19. Go through your mail while walking in place.
 20. Invest in some home exercise equipment – it’s especially useful when watching TV or when the weather is bad.
 21. Play horseshoes.
 22. Go on a picnic.
 23. Ride a bike.
 24. Go roller skating.
 25. Take up a martial art.
 26. Join a Tai Chi or yoga exercise group.
 27. Go dancing instead of seeing a movie.
 28. Or, turn on your radio and dance to the music.
 29. Invent some new dance moves.
 30. Successfully throw a basketball through a hoop 25 times in a row.
 31. When golfing, walk instead of using a cart.
 32. Learn a new sport.
 33. Play badminton.
 34. Take dance lessons.
 35. Offer to pick up balls from someone learning how to play tennis.
 36. Take a walk on the beach.
 37. Walk to the park.
 38. Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog.
 39. If you have an indoor pet, take it outside on a walk (in an appropriate carrier) for some fresh air.
 40. Go on a walking tour.
 41. Go for regular walks with family or friends.
 42. Go on a hike with family or friends.
 43. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
 44. Park your car in the farthest corner of the parking lot.
 45. Get off the bus two or more stops before your regular stop.
 46. Hide plastic eggs and conduct an egg hunt.
 47. Hand wash your dirty dishes.
 48. Go on a scavenger hunt.
 49. Blow up a balloon and hit it like a volleyball; play balloon volleyball with family and friends.
 50. Make up games for your family and friends to play. Hit a balled-up sock around and see how long you can keep it from hitting the floor.
 51. Take part in a community clean up activity.
 52. Walk to do short errands.
 53. Walk several laps around a shopping mall.
 54. Go window shopping.
 55. Before you actually go shopping, walk around the mall twice
 56. If you don’t do comparison shopping, now’s the time to start. Look for the same item at different stores at the mall and compare prices to see which store will give you a better deal.
 57. Flex your abdominal muscles when waiting in lines.
 58. Do volunteer work.
 59. Answer the phone that is farthest away from where you are.
 60. Walk in place while waiting in line.
 61. Walk up to the counter instead of using the drive-through window (remember to order healthy food!)
 62. Use a stationary bicycle.
 63. Dance to music wherever you are.
 64. Plant a garden.
 65. Walk to a restroom farthest from your office.
 66. Strengthen your body while sitting. Push your arms down hard on your chair for a count of 10, then release. Tightening your buttocks and abdominal muscles. Press your feet into the floor while tightening your leg muscles.
 67. Lift hand weights while talking on the phone.
 68. Walk around the zoo or aquarium.
 69. Rediscover your community, go sightseeing on foot.
 70. Take a walk during lunchtime and breaks.
 71. While sitting at your desk or waiting in the doctor’s office, try “writing” numbers or alphabets with your feet.
 72. Do leg lifts or stretches while waiting for a computer file to download or while waiting for someone to come to the phone.
 73. Pick up leaves.
 74. Pick up trash.
 75. Clean out your closets.
 76. Hand deliver memos at work.
 77. Set the alarm on your computer to remind you to get up and stretch, walk or move around every hour or so.
 78. Walk to someone’s office instead of calling them on the phone.
 79. Walk around the outside of your office building.
 80. Walk to nearby lunch places to pick up take-out orders.
 81. Mow the lawn with a push mower.
 82. Join a gym.
 83. Rearrange canned goods in your pantry.
 84. Bag your own groceries.
 85. Rearrange a room in your house.
 86. Coach a local sport team.
 87. If you attend a sporting event, walk up and down the bleachers several times before, during or after the event.
 88. Play games with your kids.
 89. Take your kids to the park and play with them, don’t just sit on the bench and read or watch them.
 90. Schedule a weekly day of outdoor fun with your family or friends.
 91. Ride a swing.
 92. Volunteer to help at a community event.
 93. Sign up for a fun run or walk.
 94. Install a pull-up bar in an interior doorway in your house and use it each time you pass through that door.
 95. Before you get out of bed, stretch and do some light stomach crunches.
 96. When traveling, pack a jump rope to use in your spare time.
 97. At airports, walk to your gate or baggage claim area instead of riding a tram, elevator or the express mini bus.
 98. While on vacation, do your sightseeing on foot, if possible.
 99. Plan your vacation so that it includes a hike, swimming or some other physical activity.
100. Stay at places that have a pool or workout room and use them while on vacation.
101. Pack your favorite aerobic video in your suitcase and find time to exercise to it during your travels.

Make it a daily challenge to find a way to get your body moving. Evidence suggests that even low- to moderate-intensity activities can have both short- and long-term benefits. Always check with your physician before starting any exercise program. Know your limits and always be safe. And most importantly, have fun while exercising. It’s good for your health!