Exercise advice differs depending on your goal. Pick the category below that seems right for you:
To get started. It doesn't really matter what you do as long as you do something. The most popular option is walking. But if you find that boring, try biking or joining a gym. Enroll in a water aerobics class. Join a hiking club. If you're truly at a loss, invest in an hour or two with a personal trainer, who can assess your needs and help devise a program that meets them. Be sure the trainer is certified by a reputable organization, such as the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
To get back in shape. Even if your days of fast-paced tennis are but a memory, resuming exercise can restore your fitness of decades earlier, research shows. But to protect yourself, don't go back to the routines of your youth. You may only be able to do two vigorous workouts a week instead of the three or four you did when you were younger. It also pays to adjust your goals and expectations. Instead of aiming for a marathon, start by shooting for a 5K or 10K race.
To lose excess weight. You need to combine physical activity with dietary changes if you expect to lose weight. And you have to make it a regular part of your life-preferably at least an hour a day of brisk walking or its equivalent.
To kick it up a notch. People who are already physically active can get additional and more extensive health and fitness benefits by becoming even more active. One method to give your exercise routine a boost is interval training—adding spurts of higher intensity to exercises you're already doing. For example, simply switch from waling on a level surface to going up hill counts. Or add variety to your workouts. Join a yoga or dance class. Try a rowing machine. Fitness professionals call this cross-training, and it has the advantage of working different muscle groups, which adds to your overall fitness and avoids overtaxing your muscles. It also allows you to exercise harder without exhausting yourself.