Let's Get Physical

Tips for Setting Fitness Goals

Work, friends, family. How does anyone find time to exercise? You know you should, but getting motivated can be a problem. However, it's important to find some way to incorporate activity into your busy lifestyle. Researchers have found that moderate daily exercise may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. If you are seeking general health improvement, just 30 minutes a day should do the trick. And, this thirty minutes can be broken down into 10 minute segments throughout the day.

Even exercising just three times per week (if you can't do it daily) can have benefits (mental and physical). The key is that the exercise is "moderate." Moderate exercise consists of any activity that causes an increase in breathing, forcing you to take deeper breaths. You should be able to carry on a light conversation, but should not be breathless. If you are looking to improve your fitness-training, try three to five continuous workouts per week at 60 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. Subtract your age from 220 to determine your estimated target-heart rate. If you are a beginner, multiply this number by 60-70 percent. Advanced exercisers can target a higher heart rate by multiplying this number by 70-90 percent.

If you are looking for strength training, you should work each major muscle two to three times per week. Perform at least one set with 8-12 repetitions. Before exercising, stretch each muscle group (those which will be used in the activity) for 8-12 seconds. This will help to increase flexibility. You should feel some slight discomfort (not pain) while stretching. To help get you started, decide on a goal, and make a workout plan designed to meet this goal. Once you decide upon a plan, remember to keep a log. This keeps you motivated and "on track."

Becoming and staying fit is a lifelong process, so don't become discouraged. Small steps, each day is the key. Also, keep these tips in mind:

  • Exercise with a friend
  • Mix your regular training with more traditional activities.
  • Keep fitness magazines, books, and articles on hand when you have free time.
  • Keep a tight fitting pair of jeans (or any other article of clothing) around. This encourages you to exercise. It also allows you to monitor changes in your weight or body.
  • Plan for bad weather. Have an alternative to your usual outdoor activity.
  • Work out at different times of the day, and then write down how you feel before and after each work out. Discover the best time of day to work out.
  • Combine housework with more strenuous activity. For example, shuffle, squat, jog or dance while cleaning up.
  • Make exercise a priority.

Source: adapted from WebMD and CNN

When you are ready to start exercising refer to the calorie chart below to see how many calories are burned per hour during different activities.

Activity Total Calories
Used Per Hour
Ballroom Dancing 125-310
Canoeing (slowly) 180-200
Cooking 185-200
Walking Slowly (2-1/2 mph) 210-230
Cleaning 235-355
Brisk Walking (4 mph) 250-345
Golf 300-350
Jogging (6 mph) 315-480
Cycling (9 mph) 315-480
Tennis 315-480
Skating 320-400
Gardening (heavy) 450-525
Basketball 480-625
Aerobic Dancing 480-625
Swimming 480-625
Cross Country Skiing 480-625

For the Spanish language version of this article, click here.


weight loss

I found this website, after I was very discouraged from not losing weight. I was 50 when I first saw this website, and while I am very active, walking and riding a bike 4-5 times a week, I wasn't losing the weight I desired to lose. I realized that one of the reasons I was not losing weight, is that I wasn't eating enough to balance out the amount of calories I was burning while exercising. I started keeping a food diary, and calculating the amount of calories burned for various exercises. I was a little skeptical about eating more, but after a week, when I lost 2 pounds, I was overjoyed! I continued to lose and in 6 months, I had lost 17 pounds! Thanks for your input!

starting from square one

I do not know if it is better to have had a great body or to just get a body. However I used to be in great shape then life happened. I am starting all over. I used to wear a size six and now I wear a size 12-14. I am designing a year long work out plan to get back in shape. I am a woman in her late fourties and I work a crazy work schedule. I work overnight at a hotel and part-time overnight at a hospital. My pledge to all woman is to never give up. I will be in great shape on May 31, 2011. I know that we have life trials and tribulations but celebrate everything you do. Do not beat yourself up for not working -out today. If you did 2 hours of laundry calculate that by your weight I am certain that you burned at least 300 calories if not more. Give yourself a pat on the back for not giving up in spinning class. You are every woman and every woman is you. Save money pack your lunch and put $15.00 per pay day in a jar way back in your closet. When you lose 10 lbs celebrate and take yourself out for a delicious meal. When the meal comes immediately ask for a take out container and take half the portion home. Take it to work the next day for lunch or for the next dinner. I am losing weight to get in shape. To prevent heart desease, diabetes, cancer and any other life threatning illness. Come on ladies we are in this together. Do not get discouraged and do not ask for opinions. Remember Muffin tops are baked not worn. We Can do it!!!!!!!!!! GIRLS RULE

it works

I have been exercising for a month and lost 12 lbs. im kid of diappointed in myself that i only lost 12 lbs. im going to continue working out and don't give up!


I have been overweight my whole life. I am 45 years old now and am for the first time in my life taking care of me. I starting walking my lunch hour. I usually get in 45 minutes of brisk walking 4.0 mph. I work at Indiana University and this past 2 weeks we have been really busy with students moving in and I have not been able to walk and I CAN TELL IT!! I fell horrible. I am back to walking and it is such a joy to be out and doing something. I would recommend everyone who is overweight to start walking. Just a little bit helps. BELIEVE ME!!! I have been there, done that.