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Three people walking.

Walking is a wonderful way to start exercising. It's inexpensive, doesn't involve much gear, and can be done anywhere.

Starting an exercise program

By Kathryn Schmitz

Our bodies are built for movement. We've all heard that people who don't get up and get moving are at risk for a future of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But did you know that exercising may prevent cancer, especially colon and breast cancer? It's another reason to get off the couch and start exercising. But where do you start? The key to a good exercise program is to find an activity that you love and won't get bored doing. It doesn't so much matter what form of exercise you're engaged in as long as you are breathing faster and sweating. Exercise programs can be strenuous, such as jogging or playing soccer, or they can be more moderate, such as yoga, pilates, or tai chi. You can even glean the benefits of exercise from lifestyle activities, such as gardening, golfing, or bowling.

Walking is a wonderful way to start exercising. It's inexpensive, doesn't involve much gear, and can be done anywhere. Another good form of exercise is strength training. You only need to do it twice a week, and you probably will notice improvements in your energy level and physical appearance much sooner than if you started walking for exercise. With strength training, however, it's important that you learn to do it correctly from the start. Go to a gym to get some basic instruction from a certified fitness professional before starting a weight lifting program.

Here are some other tips for starting a successful exercise program.

Kathryn Schmitz is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.

This article orginally appeared in The Pilot-Independent and on the Academic Health Center's Web site, Health Talk & You.

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