The Benefits of an Active Lifestyle

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Written by the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on September 8, 2014

Living an active life is important to staying healthy. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, staying active helps to reduce your risk of:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • cancer

You don’t have to be a distance runner to improve your health. The most important thing is that you’re staying active. It helps just to:

  • give your heart a workout
  • stay strong
  • try to maintain a healthy weight

Tips for Maintaining an Active Lifestyle

The trick to staying active is to find something you enjoy doing. For some, that means having a friend to exercise with. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to the gym or walking around the block. Others prefer to dance along to an aerobics DVD in private or go for a quiet bike ride.

It can be hard to find your workout style. It can help to mix it up every once in a while. You may find that you like trying something new. Fortunately, no matter who you are, there are some simple things you can do to get and stay active.

Take It Slow

Haven’t been active in several years? Start out slow. Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. There may be precautions you should take.

In general, you’ll want to start out with sessions of only five or 10 minutes. You can gradually increase the length of your sessions over time.

Get Your 30

Your goal for physical activity should be 30 minutes each day. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, three 10-minute sessions are just as good as one longer session. For example, you could do:

  • 10 minutes of dancing before work
  • a 10-minute walk around the parking lot at lunch
  • a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood as soon as you get home

Of course, more exercise is better. However, take precautions to avoid injuries such as muscle strain. It’s better to work out a little less one day if it will help you do it again the next.

Pump Some Iron

You don’t just need aerobic exercise. Resistance training or weight lifting is also important. This type of exercise helps strengthen your bones and improve your balance and coordination. This reduces your risk for osteoporosis. It also helps prevent injuries or falls.

Not sure how to get started? Hire a trainer for a onetime session. If you jot down the routine, you can refer to it later.

Mix It Up

Many gyms and community centers offer free classes with a monthly membership. Take advantage of those opportunities. You may get to experience some of the newest and hottest fitness trends. You never know what you might fall in love with next.

Mind Your Money

You can get a great workout at home for just pennies. Fitness DVDs are a great way to exercise.. Many local libraries also lend out exercise DVDs. Checking out different DVDs can be a great way to find new types of exercise you like.

Another option is to tune in to a fitness show broadcast on TV. Exercise shows are also available on the Internet.

Other home-friendly workouts that require little or no special equipment include:

  • walking or jogging
  • jumping rope
  • dancing
  • squats
  • weight training with found objects (bags of beans, a heavy book, a water bottle)
  • jumping jacks
  • push-ups


Stretching after a workout should always be part of your routine. Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion. It may also cut your risk of injury or muscle cramps. Finally, stretching improves circulation throughout the body.

If you need guidance on the best ways to stretch, ask a trainer for a quick tutorial.