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Staying active can help

- Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer
- Improve your strength and balance so you can prevent injuries and stay independent
- Improve your mood
- Feel better about yourself
- Improve your ability to think, learn, and make decisions

Before You Start...

If you have a health problem like heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activities.

- If you weren't physically active before, start slowly. Even 5 minutes of physical activity has health benefits. You can build up to more over time.
- Choose aerobic activities-activities that make your heart beat faster-like walking fast, dancing, swimming, or raking leaves.
- Tell your doctor if you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or unplanned weight loss.

Do muscle-strengthening activities 2 days a week.

- Try using exercise bands or lifting hand weights. You can also use bottles of water or cans of food as weights.
- Breathe out as you lift the weight, and breathe in as you lower it. Don't hold your breath; holding your breath can cause unsafe changes in your blood pressure.

Do balance activities.

- Sign up for a yoga class or try out a yoga video at home.
- Learn tai chi, a mind-body exercise that improves balance.
- Stand up from a sitting position.
- Practice standing on one foot (hold onto a chair if you need to at first).

This information is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit for more information.