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It's best to increase your activity in all three types of fitness: flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle fitness. You can work on all three types without leaving home.
If you have heart problems or other health issues, or if you haven't been active for a long time, check with your doctor before you start a new activity.
Flexibility and stretching
Flexibility is the ability to move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. Stretching can help you to be more flexible. It's also something you can easily do at home.
- Warm up your muscles slightly before you stretch them. Walk or do some other light aerobic exercise for a few minutes. Then start stretching.
- Ease yourself into the stretch, relax, and don't push or bounce. You should feel a stretch, but not pain, in the muscle.
- Exhale as you do the stretch. While you hold the stretch, inhale deeply.
- Try closing your eyes while you stretch. It helps you relax.
- Take a moment to enjoy the good, warm feeling that comes after a good stretch.
Exercise DVDs or videos online can teach you more about stretching your muscles.
Aerobic fitness means increasing how well your body uses oxygen. Look for activities that make your heart beat faster and make you breathe harder.
Experts suggest that you do at least 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous activity a week. It's fine to do blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
Moderate aerobic activities you can do from home:
- Take a brisk walk.
- Ride a bike up to about 10 miles per hour.
- Push a lawn mower.
- Sweep, perhaps to lively music.
- Rake leaves or shovel snow.
- Play actively with your children.
Vigorous aerobic activities you can do from home:
- Go for a jog or run.
- Ride a bike faster than 10 miles per hour.
- Try using an aerobic dance DVD or online video.
- Jump rope.
- Use an exercise machine, such as riding a stationary bike faster than 10 miles per hour.
Muscle fitness means building stronger muscles and increasing how long you can use them. You can strengthen a muscle by doing any activity that pushes or pulls against that muscle.
Experts say that you should work on strengthening your muscles at least 2 times a week. Focus on the large muscle groups in your arms, legs, back, chest, and core.
- Do exercises using your body weight, like push-ups and leg lifts.
- Use stretchable bands (exercise bands) to add resistance as your muscles work against the elastic.
- Use free weights ("dumbbells") or a weight-training machine. If you don't have free weights, you can lift soup cans, water bottles, or books.
- Do housework and yard work, such as scrubbing the bathtub, tilling the garden, or pulling weeds.
- Strengthen your core. Pull in your belly. Imagine pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax. Breathe normally as you hold the muscle tight. Repeat. You can do this exercise anywhere, in any position.
Current as of: October 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Contact Physical Activity Services
If you have questions about physical activity or exercise, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and heard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. Our qualified exercise professionals are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm Pacific Time. You can also leave a message after hours.
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HealthLinkBC’s qualified exercise professionals can also answer your questions by email.
Contact a Dietitian
If you have any questions about healthy eating, food, or nutrition, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and hard of hearing) toll-free in B.C. You can speak to a health service navigator who can connect you with one of our registered dietitians, who are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. You can also leave a message after hours.
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