May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is a great time to promote the benefits of physical activity.

Getting active increases your chances of living longer and can help you:

  • Control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight.
  • Raise your “good” cholesterol.
  • Prevent heart disease, colorectal cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Here are some tips to help you get active:

  • Aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity a week. This includes things like walking fast, dancing, or biking.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week. Be sure to strengthen all major muscle groups including the legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms.

Help a Loved One Get More Active: Quick tips

  • Lots of people struggle to fit physical activity into their busy lives. If someone you care about is having a hard time getting active, you can help. Here are some tips to get you started.

Suggest activities you can do together.

  • Start small. Try taking a walk after dinner twice a week, or do sit-ups while you watch TV.
  • Mix it up. Learn new stretches and warm-up exercises.
  • Sign up for a fitness class together. Choose an activity that’s new for both of you.

Make it part of your regular routine.

  • Meet up at the gym or YMCA on your way home from work.
  • Give up a TV show to make time for activity.
  • Wake up a few minutes earlier to go for a brisk walk together before breakfast.
  • Walk or ride your bike to the store or coffee shop.

Be understanding.

  • What are your loved one’s reasons for not being more active? Maybe he/she feels overwhelmed or embarrassed. Ask what you can do to be supportive.

Recognize small efforts.

  • Be patient. Change takes time.
  • Offer encouragement and praise. (“You did a great job with your sit-ups today!”)
  • Point out positive choices. (“I’m glad we decided to walk to the park instead of drive.”)

Choose healthy gifts.

  • For birthdays or special rewards, choose gifts to encourage your loved one to exercise. Some ideas include:
  • New sneakers or workout clothes
  • A basketball or balance ball
  • Hand weights
  • Pedometer
  • Gift certificate to a gym or exercise class
  • This information on physical activity was adapted from materials from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Reviewed by: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines Review Team — November 2011

Adapted from