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Get & Stay Active for Your Health

Most likely you have heard that exercise can help you live a healthier life. But did you know it can help you feel better right away? Any type of movement can make both your body and mind feel better right away. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease in the long run but instantly it boosts your mood, sharpens your focus, reduces stress, and improves your sleep.

How much Physical Activity Adults Need:

The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) and 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity each week. Currently, only half of adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases.

Meeting the 150-minute goal may seem overwhelming. But you can start with a few minutes at a time. It could be 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  The good news is that any physical activity is better than none. You can still gain benefits by breaking your exercise sessions into smaller periods of time. Tight on time? Start with just 5 minutes. It all adds up!

Breaking Down the Physical Activity Guidelines:

Aerobic activity or “cardio” gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. If you are doing aerobic activities at a moderate- or vigorous intensity, it counts toward meeting the aerobic guideline of 150 minutes. You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mix of the two, each week.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

  • Walking fast
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike leisurely
  • Playing doubles tennis or pickleball


  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Riding a bike fast or on hills
  • Playing singles tennis or pickleball
  • Playing basketball

Strength training, also called resistance training or weight training, is recommended at least 2 days a week. Muscle strengthening activities include anything that makes your muscles work harder than usual. Maintaining strength is important to build muscle mass, maintain muscle function, and preserve bone density. There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles:

  • Lifting weights (e.g., dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, weight machines)
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (e.g., push-ups, sit-ups, TRX straps)
  • Group fitness classes that involve strength training (e.g., yoga, muscle pump, X-Train)

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same or different days that you do aerobic activity—whatever works best for your schedule. Strength activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body—legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. Get started building muscle by following these tips:

  • Start slow, especially if you haven’t been active for a long time.
  • Pay attention to your body. Exhaustion, sore joints, or muscle pain mean you are overdoing it.
  • Use small amounts of weight to start. Focus on your form, and add more weight slowly, over time.
  • Focus on smooth, steady movements to lift weights into position. Don’t jerk or thrust weights.
  • Don’t hold your breath during strength exercises. That could cause changes in your blood pressure. Breathe out as you lift weights and breathe in as you relax.
  • Ask for help. To get started, schedule a session or two with a personal trainer. Review our website for details on how to request a trainer! Or look for a group fitness class that sounds fun. The fitness schedule is viewable on our website.  

Over time, physical activity can help you live a longer, healthier life. So, find what works for you. Take the first step and get a little more active each day.

Click here to find tips to get moving and explore all the Fitness & Wellness programs we have to offer at Duke Rec & P.E.

Image Credit: Natalie Jones, Director of Fitness & Wellness