Garden City Telegram

When it comes to getting fit, are you exercising your imagination more than your muscles? You plan to move more - take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk to the store, not drive; and to get in your daily steps. You also keep planning to do 150 to 300 minutes of aerobic activity a week and maintain and build muscle strength with resistance exercises twice a week. But somehow it doesn't happen.

Almost 80% of adults don't meet those key guidelines for basic daily activity and aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise. This lack of physical activity is linked to approximately $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10% of all premature deaths.

Now imagine if you - and your whole family, kids included - moved and exercised more! Seventy percent of the 10 most common chronic diseases are prevented, slowed, improved or even reversed by getting regular physical activity. That includes heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory conditions. 

Here are ideas that may inspire you and your family to put some serious spring in your step now that spring is here! 

Variety is the spice of life, physically and emotionally. Cross-training avoids repetitive-use injuries and boredom, both of which can derail your efforts to move more. Every day, vow not to be sedentary. Get up and move around for five to 10 minutes every 30-60 minutes. Add (as an example): Monday, swim laps for 20-30 minutes; Tuesday, walk 10,000 steps doing interval training (low to high intensity); Wednesday, do 30 minutes of strength/resistance training; Thursday, bike for an hour; Friday, resistance/strength training again, using different muscle groups than Wednesday; Saturday, take an aerobic class or do yoga; Sunday, take it easier. 

Varying your activities also gives you a mental/emotional boost, according to a new study published in BMC Psychiatry. The researchers found that the more people moved and the more varied their movements, the greater their sense of well-being.

Use frequency, duration and intensity to shape your exercise routines. Combine them in different ways. Frequency? Enjoy some of your various activities, such as gardening or swimming, once in a while; do others (like walking) daily. As for duration - enjoy longer and shorter bouts, between 30 to 60 minutes, of dedicated effort five or more days a week. Intensity is great - you want to sweat and increase your heart rate and respiration - but you don't want to injure yourself or make your body less responsive to exercise's benefits.

Start slow, build capacity. Research clearly shows that once the health benefits from physical activity begin to accumulate, additional amounts of activity provide additional benefits.

Don't overdo it. A study in the journal Cell Metabolism reveals the people who do high-intensity bursts of HIIT training every day end up damaging the energy centers (mitochondria) in their cells and may reduce their ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Another study found that doing moderate exercise five days a week regulates blood pressure and promotes weight loss more than doing short-time, intense HIIT sessions three times a week.

Kids' benefits: A new study in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise finds a link between kids' cardiorespiratory fitness and their grades - the more athletic they are, the better their marks in both language and math classes. 

Adults' benefits: Another study finds that adhering to the recommended level of physical activity and exercise lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome (any three of the following: high blood pressure, triglycerides, lousy LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, plus belly fat and low HDL cholesterol) by 51%. If you followed the activity guidelines and dietary guidelines (five servings of fruits and veggies minimum daily, lean proteins, and no ultraprocessed foods or drinks), you slash the risk of metabolic syndrome by 65%. 

So use that imagination of yours to see a healthier future -- and move toward it every day!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit 

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.