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In the Spotlight

Jog. Walk. Run. Rake? Finding Physical Activity Outside of the Gym


People raking leaves

Maybe you're looking for little ways to factor physical activity into your day. Maybe you're looking for tips to keep you motivated. Or maybe you're not even sure what qualifies as a good workout. Find out everything you need to know in My HealtheVet's Healthy Living Center for Physical Activity.

"Being active is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle because it strengthens your heart, muscles and bones. By staying active, you're increasing your potential for a better, longer life - and you'll feel better!" explains Megan Simmons, exercise physiologist for MOVE!®, a weight management program for Veterans. But she also emphasizes that physical activity truly is a lifestyle, not just a once-a-day obligation. "It's great if you're going the gym, but it's not as effective if you sit throughout the rest of the day. Opportunities for staying active are always there, from walking to the furthest copier at work, to reading while standing up or raking the backyard."

What you need to know about exercise and physical activity

  • Be careful and know your personal restrictions. The Healthy Living Center provides information to help you get ready with a plan that's best for your body. Make sure to know your limits - and talk to your doctor if you don't!
  • Two and a half hours per week. At least 10-minute sessions. That's the average minimum amount of moderate physical activity you should be doing. Follow these guidelines, and aim for what meets the mark of a healthy lifestyle
  • Have you heard of BMI (PDF)? It stands for "Body Mass Index," and it's the ratio or your height to your weight. Sometimes certain body types make the numbers deceptive, but if you're in the orange or red, you may especially want to crank up your level of activity
Person playing basket ball

Ways to get started

  • Big changes start with little steps. Don't just jump in and injure yourself, and don't set yourself up for failure by being unreasonable about your goals. Get started with simple, 10-minute ways to get in that workout
  • MOVE!®is VA's Weight Management Program for Veterans. As of 2008, there are no co-pays! VA staff members are dedicated to helping you lead a healthy life. We'll help you get started - and stay on the right track - with a plan that's designed just for you.

Ways to keep going

  • My HealtheVet Journaling features allow you to enter and track both your physical activity and your diet. Challenge yourself to go a bit further in your next morning jog, or stay motivated by watching the graph of your weight go down
  • You don't have to dread exercise! You can be active your own way by choosing activities you enjoy. You can play sports with your buddies or walk around the block with your spouse to catch up after work. Chores can count, too. It's great to know you're getting a workout while you do yard work - although now there's no more excuse for not cleaning out the gutters!

Updated/Reviewed: October 5, 2012

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