Do I have to exercise to stay fit?

There are lots of things you can do that count toward meeting physical activity goals and they don't have to fall under the category of traditional exercises to make you younger and fitter.

Three Tips to Get Started:

  • Think "active," not "exercise." Here's a list of activities that can help you fill your physical activity quota for the day: playing Frisbee; washing the car; building a fence; gardening; dancing; running after your dog at the park; mowing the lawn with a push mower; ironing; sculpting clay; woodworking; laying down linoleum in your kitchen; painting the garage; roller-skating; walking at the mall (shop if you must); acting in a community play; dancing at a club or alone in your living room; hiking with a friend; taking a paddleboat around a lake. If you can strike the right balance of cardiorespiratory, flexibility, and strength-training exercise with your physical activities, you may never have to darken the doors of a gym again.
  • Take a fitness vacation. Spend your vacation engaging in physical activities in exotic locales instead of taking a vacation from exercise. Do your research; you can find vacation packages at spas, ranches, or retreats that will fill your days with hiking; yoga; kayaking; horseback riding; tennis; skiing; surfing; snorkeling; or a combination of activities. For those in need of a bigger challenge, a fitness boot camp may be the preferred option. Just be sure to choose a package that is appropriate for your current fitness level and abilities. Bring what you learn home with you, and put it into daily practice.
  • Figure in the fun factor. Do whatever you have to do to make physical activity enjoyable for you. Choose scenic routes for your walks: a neighborhood with beautiful homes, a picturesque park, or a stunning riverside or beach walk. Invite good company on your active outings, so the time will fly by. Treat yourself on the weekends -- drive (or better yet, cycle) to a nearby state park or botanical garden you've been meaning to visit. Enjoy your surroundings, and try as many different activities as you need in order to stay interested, challenged, and motivated.

Being physically active will make you more energetic and boost your mood almost immediately. You'll sleep better, feel good about yourself, find it easier to relax, and you may really enjoy the new, active you.

Yes. Many believe that weight is an indicator of optimal health, however, weight is not an indicator of health. Obtaining optimal fitness is more important than obtaining optimal weight. Often, these two move in unison; as you become fitter, you are at an optimal weight, as you gain weight you are likely less fit. However, you can be fit and be classified as overweight, and you can have the appearance of being an appropriate weight and be unfit.  

Fitness is described as having a good health or physical condition secondary to exercise or nutrition. Optimal weight, however, does not mean you are in good health or in good physical condition; in fact, it is quite possible to be in poor health and poor physical condition even at an optimal weight. The best bet is to maintain a healthy diet and participate in regular physical activity. If you do, you will become physically fit and potentially obtain optimal weight.    

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.