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Chapter 9. Exercise > How Much Exercise Do You Need?

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

It is likely that you are getting more routine exercise than you realize, for activities such as cleaning your house, shopping, carrying bags of groceries, light gardening, and slow walking all qualify. But clearly this is not enough. To maximize your ability to cope with stress, you need to focus on becoming physically fit, which for most of us requires involvement in a regular exercise program. The basic recommendation is that you engage in thirty minutes of physical activity each day. These thirty minutes of exercise need not be performed at one time. You can increase your activity level by climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking a few blocks to the store instead of driving, taking the dog for a walk instead of letting him roam in the yard, doing yard work, and so on.

Ideally we recommend that you engage in the aerobic activity of your choice at least three times weekly. Begin and end your workout with stretching exercises for warmup and cooldown. On the days between aerobic workouts, engage in weight training. Practice stretching whenever your muscles feel tense, and in between as well. If you are really out of shape due to years of inactivity, obesity, poor diet, smoking, or advanced age, begin slowly with only low-intensity exercises or leisurely walking. If you have any heart problems that you are aware of, or if you are past 40 and have not exercised in years, consult your physician before embarking on any aerobic activity. If you have any concerns about your health, consult your physician before starting an exercise program, and always put medical advice ahead of suggestions in this book.


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