woman practicing yoga in white for exercise

How — and why — to improve your exercise program

AUG 07, 2014
By Todd Weitzenberg, MD
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To help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life, incorporate exercise into your daily routine. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise helps prevent chronic disease, improves mental health, and increases your chances of living longer.

At Kaiser Permanente, we take this to heart by asking members about their exercise habits and considering exercise one of your vital signs. And that’s a good thing, since a recent Kaiser Permanente study links asking patients about their exercise habits with weight loss in overweight patients and improved glucose control for patients with diabetes.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Aim for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Remember: 3 10-minute walks provide the same health benefits as one 30-minute walk, so squeeze in your fitness when you can.

For more on including exercise in your life, listen to a podcast featuring Dr. Weitzenberg.

If you’re struggling to stay motivated, try adding these 6 ingredients to your exercise routine:

  1. Goals: Write them down and post them somewhere you will see them every day. This visual cue can help you stay on task when things get busy.
  2. A checklist: Make a list with check boxes of your exercise routine and bask in the glory as you check those boxes day after day.
  3. Find a friend or a coworker and help each other to complete your workouts and stay consistent. Do you own a dog? A 2011 study shows the odds of reaching 150 walking minutes a week are 34 percent higher for dog walkers than non-dog walkers. Take your “best friend” for a walk, and you’ll both be healthier!
  4. Tunes: Studies have shown that music can increase your motivation as well as the intensity of your workouts — so you work out longer and burn more calories.
  5. The outdoors: A University of Glasgow study shows that outdoor exercise may promote better mental health. Spice up your workout routine by including indoor and outdoor workouts.
  6. Celebration: When you share your successes with family and friends, it helps keep you motivated. Even better, you will motivate the ones you love.

TOPICSExercise & Weight LossResearchSports & Fitness