Where to Start?

First, think about your current physical activity level. How active are you now? The tips in this section are for adults. Check out these resources for getting your kids more active:

I’m just getting started.

Start out slowly and add new physical activities little by little. After a few weeks or months, do them longer and more often. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out these sample schedules for weekly physical activity.

For help getting motivated, sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) challenge.

Choose an activity that you enjoy.

Team up with a friend or join a class. Ask your family and friends to be active with you. Play games like tennis or basketball, or take a class in dance or martial arts. Everyday activities can add up to an active lifestyle. You can:
  • Go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood
  • Ride a bicycle to work or just for fun
  • Play outdoor games with your children

Get more tips on getting active.

Have fun with your family.

If you have children, be a role model for making healthy choices. Encourage your whole family to get outside and get active – go for a hike or organize a family soccer game.

Use these tips to talk with a family member about getting more active.

Be realistic.

Remember, it’s not all or nothing. Even 10 minutes of activity is better than nothing! Try walking for 10 minutes a day a few days a week.

Strengthen your muscles.

Try some of these activities a few days a week:
  • Sit-ups
  • Heavy gardening (digging or shoveling)
  • Doing push-ups on the floor or against the wall
  • Lifting small weights (you can even use cans of food as weights)

Find a time that works for you. Try fitting in 10 minutes of activity before work or in the evening after dinner.

Track your progress.

Use this score chart to measure your current fitness level [PDF – 80 KB]. Fill out the chart again after you get moving, and see your score go up over time.

A pedometer counts the number of steps you take.

Use a pedometer.

A pedometer clips onto your belt or waistband and counts the number of steps you take. Increase the number of steps you take each day until you are taking at least 10,000 steps a day.

Check out these tips for using a pedometer.

Learn how to do strength training.

Watch these videos for tips on how to do:

Check out the do’s and don’ts of strength training with weights.

I’m doing a little, but I’m ready to get more active.

You may be feeling the benefits of getting active, such as sleeping better or getting toned. Here are 2 ways to add more activity to your life.
  • Be active longer each time. If you are walking 3 days a week for 30 minutes, try walking for an additional 10 minutes or more each day.
  • Be active more often. If you are riding your bike to work 3 days a week, try riding your bike to work 5 days a week.

Get to know your schedule.

Look at your schedule for the week. Find several 30-minute time periods you can use for physical activity. Write them on your calendar. Think about new ways to build more active time into your busy week.

Keep track of your activities with this activity worksheet.

I’m already physically active, and I want to keep it up.

If you are already active for 2 hours and 30 minutes each week, you can get even more health benefits by stepping up your routine. Work your way up to 5 hours or more of activity each week. More activity can further lower your risk for:
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

Add more vigorous activities.

In general, 15 minutes of vigorous activity provides the same benefits as 30 minutes of moderate activity. Try jogging for 15 minutes instead of walking for 30 minutes.

Mix it up.

Mix vigorous activities with moderate ones. Try joining a fitness group or gym class. Don’t forget to do muscle-strengthening activities 2 days a week.

Challenge yourself.

Check out the Presidential Champions program to get personalized activity logs, training tips, and more. See just how high you can raise your activity level!