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Questions about exercise? We have answers

I’m way too busy to do an hour of exercise every day. Is it even worth it to do less?

Heck yes! Experts say that even a little exercise is better than none. Like 10 minutes. Or even 5 if it’s a super busy day. And simply increasing your steps can improve your health and reduce disease risk. If time is short, try to sneak in a 10-minute walk before work or on your lunch break. Also, take the stairs when possible and park farther away from your destination.

I started walking for two miles three days a week. This means I deserve that cheeseburger, right?

Mmm, not quite. The average calories burned in one mile works out to about 60, and that cheeseburger can have around 500. Consuming just two Fig Newtons will undo the calories burned during that two-mile walk. Remember: to lose or maintain weight, we must burn as many or more calories than we consume.

I love those brightly colored sports drinks, but do I really need them when I exercise?

The short answer is no. The most important function of any sports drink is to replace the fluids lost during exercise. But plain water does that just as well, without any calories. Although many sports drinks feature added electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and chloride, most people don’t need them. But if you’re doing moderate or intense exercise for 90 minutes or longer, then the electrolyte replacements in sports drinks will come in handy, especially in hot, humid weather. If you’re working out for less than 90 minutes, stick with the water.

What are some of the benefits of lifting weights?

Strength training is more than just building gorgeous muscles. Fit muscles perform better all day long, even while performing mundane actions, such as moving files, restocking the supply room or doing housecleaning. Physical conditioning also enhances any aerobic programs you’re doing by keeping your muscles flexible and strong. Strong, efficient muscles support our bodies better and use oxygen more effectively, placing less strain on our hearts.

How much exercise do I have to do?

The general rule is to increase your heart rate so you’re winded for at least 20 minutes three times a week. Brisk walking, swimming or any other aerobic exercise all qualify.

You’ll get a boost in energy, an improved immune system (fewer colds and bouts of flu), a more relaxed outlook and healthier blood pressure and cholesterol levels. At this exercise level, you’ll also be able to maintain your weight or achieve a gradual weight loss.

Is there anything I can do to when I start losing motivation to exercise?

Yes! Start by trying some of these ideas to help you to stick to your exercise goals:

  • Find an exercise buddy with similar exercise goals.
  • Keep a record. Maintaining a journal or exercise log will help you track your progress.
  • Make a plan and stick to it. Decide which days of the week you’ll exercise and what your workout will be. Visualize yourself doing that activity.
  • Mix up your activities to prevent boredom. Try something new each week, like dancing, biking or swimming.
  • Remember: any exercise is better than none. Try to squeeze in a short workout instead of your usual routine. And if you miss one day, don’t let it throw you off for the week. Just get back on track the very next day.

How much exercise should I do?

Experts recommend setting a goal of 60 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week. To tighten and tone sagging muscles, add a full round of floor exercises, weightlifting or other resistance exercise at least three times a week.

What to expect: Exercise builds muscle, which is denser and heavier than fat, so some exercisers actually gain weight at first. But by adding muscle and speeding up your metabolism, you’ll lose inches on your waist before you shed pounds.

How many steps should I be taking every day?

Research suggests that the old goal of 10,000 steps (or five miles) per day isn’t for everyone. New research shows the number is closer to 6,000 for most people to prevent weight gain and maintain cardiovascular health. And don’t feel you have to reach this goal right away. Just try to increase your steps daily or weekly by 10%. Increasing daily steps by 2,000 and reducing daily calorie intake by just 100 calories will stop weight gain.

Need help with creating and sticking with healthy habits like boosting your activity? The Attain app helps you go beyond fitness by rewarding you for taking care of your health. Plus, you can earn points for hitting daily and weekly activity goals. Download today in the App Store. 

This material provides a general overview of the topic. Health information is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a therapist, physician or other health care professional. Contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs.