Healthy Moves

Exercise is for everyone. Moving your body helps you stay healthy. You feel better and enjoy life more if you are physically active. If you do not get some form of exercise, you are at greater risk of chronic diseases. A chronic disease is one that cannot be cured. It lasts for a lifetime. Heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis are chronic diseases.

If you already have a chronic disease, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor may have some suggestions. Making activity a part of your life can improve your health. Choose an activity that works for you. Make a plan. Normal things like walking, gardening, climbing stairs, yardwork, and household activities can be part of your plan.

Make a written plan. Keep a daily activity dairy. Most people will stick to a written plan. If you choose several activities it may be more interesting for you. Start with an easy activity, such as walking. Before you start, consider the following.

  • Think about how long your walk should be. Set a goal for yourself. Start small and gradually increase your walking.

  • Choose comfortable shoes and loose fitting clothes.

  • Make sure you choose a safe place to walk.

  • Walking with friends and family members is safer and more fun.

  • Walk for at least 30 minutes a day. The 30 minutes of walking can be all at once or several short trips that add up to 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening can be a good plan.

  • You can improve your health by increasing your pace, distance and/or the amount of time spent walking.

  • Make a list of places within walking distance of your home. Walk instead of driving to places like the grocery store, cleaners, newspaper stand, post office, etc.

Other Activities

  • Add new activities that are fun for you.

  • Plan to spend 30 minutes each week tending to your lawn or garden.

  • Find ways to have fun and be active at the same time. Dancing is a good example.

  • Plan an activity such as swimming or bicycling with your family or friends.

  • Join the local YMCA and enroll in a class such as yoga.

  • Limit TV viewing, instead get up and move.

Always set reasonable goals. Make an activity plan that fits your lifestyle. Your goals should be easy enough for you to achieve. Do not discourage yourself by setting goals that are too hard to reach. Adding ten minutes of activity each day can improve your health. Slowly increase the time you spend in movement until you reach 30 minutes per day. Remember, a big part health care is self-care, so take good care of yourself.

Prepared by Drusilla Banks, Extension Educator Family and Nutrition, University of Illinois Extension Chicago Extension Center.

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