3 ways to a fitter you!

How hard is hard enough?treadmills at gym

You can't ignore it any longer. Obesity and physical inactivity cause about 25 percent to 30 percent of major cancers, such as colon, breast, endometrial, kidney and esophageal cancers, in the United States. It's never too late to start moving—and reaping the benefits. But if you haven't been active in a while, getting started can seem overwhelming. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting. Once you get the go-ahead, start slowly with just a few minutes of activity two to three times a week. Work up to at least 30 minutes a day for four to six days a week.

Aim for moderate intensity—60 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Calculate this by first subtracting your age in years from 220. For example, if you're 50 years old, you'll find your max heart rate of 170 beats per minute (bpm) by subtracting 50 from 220 (220 – 50 = 170 bpm). Take 60 percent to 85 percent of your max heart rate to find your target heart rate zone. In this case, a 50-year-old's target heart rate would be between 102 and 144 bpm. Check your pulse periodically during activity. Count the beats for 20 seconds and multiply by 3 to get beats per minute. You can also opt for a heart-rate monitor.At a loss as to how to fit in more activity? Here are three suggestions:

Walk this way. While the steps you take during your usual daily activity are good, the steady, prolonged exercise you get from a fitness walk is even better. Walk around your block, in a park or on a treadmill at a gym or at home. Start slowly with a five-minute stroll each day for a week. Then add three minutes to your walks each week or as you feel comfortable until you can walk briskly for 30 minutes at a time.

Strategies for success

    • Get a pair of new, comfortable walking shoes.
    • Plan for poor weather. Walk indoors in shopping malls.
Pedal power. Pedaling can be a leisurely way to start exercising. Tour your neighborhood and parks or pedal a stationary bike at home or in a gym. A recumbent bike in which you sit low to the ground and pedal the legs forward may feel more comfortable.

Strategies for success

    • Choose an outdoor bike that's right for you. Opt for one with a wider seat and tires for better stability like a mountain or recreational bike.
    • Don't try to pedal as fast as you can the entire time. Aim for a normal cadence that keeps your heart rate in the target zone.
Water workouts. Exercising in water offers a full-body workout that can lessen stress on your muscles and joints. Water workouts keep you feeling refreshed during activity. You can swim laps if you like or do shallow- or deep-water exercises without swimming.

Strategies for success

    • Check with a local swim center for classes featuring workouts like water aerobics.
    • For deep-water workouts, wear a foam belt or a life jacket for safety and comfort.