Massachusetts Medical Society: Be Active!

Be Active!

Physical activity means moving your body in a way that uses energy.

Activities that increase your heart rate and breathing, like jogging, improve heart and lung fitness. It's also important to do weight-bearing activities, like lifting weights, to build and maintain bones and muscles; and to do balance and stretching activities, like yoga and stretching, to help reduce the risk of injuries.

Health benefits of physical activity

Moving at a moderate or vigorous pace for at least 30 minutes a day helps keep you healthy in a lot of ways. It:

  • Improves self-esteem and feelings of well-being
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Makes your bones, muscles and joints stronger and healthier
  • Builds endurance and muscle strength
  • Improves flexibility and posture
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Lowers your risk of diseases, like heart disease and colon cancer

In general, any activity is good, but more is better! So talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activity is best for you, and get moving!

Here are some ideas:

  • Take your children or grandchildren to the park. Join them in a game of tag or catch!
  • Take a family walk after a dinner.
  • Walk to do errands instead of driving.

Examples of moderate physical activity are:

  • Walking (about 3-1/2 miles per hour)
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Riding a bicycle (less than 10 miles per hour)

Vigorous physical activities include:

  • Running/jogging
  • Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)
  • Swimming
  • Walking very fast (4-1/2 miles per hour)
  • Heavy yard work, such as chopping wood
  • Weight lifting (vigorous effort)
  • Playing basketball

This chart shows the difference in calories burned between different moderate and vigorous activities.

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