Weight Management

Increase Physical Activity

Physical activity is an important part of managing body weight.

Being physically active can help you achieve a healthy weight and prevent excess weight gain. However, physical activity is also important to all other aspects of your health. Benefits include sleeping better at night, decreasing your chances of becoming depressed, and helping you look good. When you are not physically active, you are more likely to have health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood cholesterol.

The amount of physical activity needed to manage body weight depends on calorie intake and varies a lot from person to person. Some adults will need to do more physical activity than others to manage body weight.

How much physical activity do you need to help manage body weight?

  1. To start, adults should do the equivalent of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
  2. If necessary, adults should increase their weekly minutes of aerobic physical activity gradually over time (while eating fewer calories) to meet weight loss goals.
  3. Some adults who need to lose weight may need to do more than the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate-intensity activity to meet weight loss goals.

This may sound like a lot. However, your weight is a balance of the number of calories you eat and drink and the physical activity you do. Weight loss can be achieved by eating and drinking fewer calories OR by burning more calories in physical activity. The people with the greatest long-term success are doing BOTH - eating less and being more active. For example, walking 30 minutes each day and drinking one less soda each day are two small steps you can take that can have a big impact on your weight over time.

Get Started                                      Overcome Stumbling Blocks

Get started increasing physical activity:

  • Pick activities you like and that fit into your life.
  • Be active with family and friends. Having a support network can help you stay active.
  • Keep track of your physical activity and gradually increase how much you do over time. Use the SuperTracker, a journal, a log, or mark your activity on a calendar.
  • If you are interested in a challenge to get you started, try to the President's Challenge for physical activity.

Stumbling Blocks:

Concerned about increasing physical activity? Here are some common "stumbling blocks" and ideas to help you overcome these barriers:

"I dislike physical activity. Running just isn't my idea of fun."

Pick activities that you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit adds up, and the health benefits increase as you spend more time being active. If one activity, like running, doesn't appeal to you, find something that does.  There are lots of activities, such as: swimming, biking, walking, playing tennis, basketball, hiking, rollerblading, etc.  The point is to get out there and move! Doing something is better than doing nothing.

"I don't have the energy to be active."

Daily activities like walking, gardening, and climbing up the stairs all count. Start with what you can do, even if that's just 10 minutes. You may even find yourself more energized after being active!

"I don't know the first thing about being active."

Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy. You can choose moderate or vigorous intensity activities, or a mix of both, each week. Moderate physical activities include: walking briskly, bicycling, dancing, and golf. Vigorous physical activities include: running, jogging, swimming, basketball, and aerobics. Check out these tips for increasing physical activity.

"How do I know when I have gotten enough exercise for the day?"

For substantial health benefits, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.