Exercise: Why Fitness Matters

Being fit improves your health. 

A man, woman, and 2 children out for a ride on their bikes in the park.

A lifetime of fitness offers many benefits like:

  • Decreasing your risk of health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer

  • Managing your weight

  • Helping you sleep better

  • Preventing or relieving stress, depression, and back problems

  • Boosting your energy

You need to continue exercising to keep these benefits. Your main goal is to make fitness a lifetime commitment. Build a fitness plan that you can stick with. Choose activities you like. Go slowly, especially when just starting out. Work up to being active 30 minutes on most days. Aim for a total of 150 or more minutes a week.

Why be fit?

People who are physically fit:

  • Are more alert and productive

  • Have more energy, both physically and mentally

  • Handle stress better

  • Sleep better

  • Are less prone to injury

Check your health first

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you should talk to your healthcare provider before starting a fitness program:

  • Has a healthcare provider ever said you have heart trouble?

  • Do you ever have chest pains?

  • Do you often feel faint or have dizzy spells?

  • Has a provider ever said your blood pressure is too high?

  • Has a provider ever said that you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by exercise?

  • Do you take any prescription medicines for problems such as diabetes or asthma?

  • Talking with your provider before beginning a new exercise program is a good idea for anyone.

Will I lose weight?

Many of us would like to lose or keep off a few pounds. Being more active each day and building muscle can help. Here’s how:

  • Being active burns calories. You burn nearly twice as many calories just walking slowly as you do sitting.

  • Muscle burns more calories than fat. So the more muscle you build up from activity, the more calories you burn.

  • If you add more muscle, you’ll use more calories even when you’re not being active.

  • Being active helps you keep more muscle as you age. More muscle means it will be easier to control your weight.

Online Medical Reviewer: Horowitz, Diane, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Last Review Date: 3/1/2017
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.