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Q. I don't have time to exercise. I hate exercise. 60 minutes a day?
The 60-minute suggestion is based on the National Academy of Science's recommendation for people who are trying to prevent weight gain, or keep themselves from regaining after weight loss -- not for people who are trying to increase or maintain their cardio-respiratory fitness or health. There's plenty of research to show that 30 minutes of physical activity a day will help you gain lots of health and fitness benefits.
Both guidelines will help improve your health and fitness. Following the more vigorous ACSM recommendation will make you more aerobically fit, and its strength-training component will make you stronger and more toned. The Surgeon General guideline, meanwhile, may be easier to fit into your lifestyle -- not replacing the ACSM guideline, but complementing it.
If you already exercise vigorously at the gym several times a week, there's no reason to quit. But if the ACSM recommendation is too much for you, the Surgeon General's report offers you an alternative.
The most important thing is that you do something.
Q. Where do I start if I have never exercised?
If you're new to exercise, or have struggled with it in the past, talk with your doctor about your exercise plans. After that, start by incorporating more activity into your daily life. For instance:
Whichever plan you decide on, it's a good idea to set weekly goals:
Research shows that setting goals will help you stick to your program. It will clarify what you're supposed to do and let you track your progress. If you hit a roadblock later on, you can refer back to what has worked in the past, or use your accomplishments to re-energize yourself.