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It's never too late to start taking better care of yourself, and that includes exercise. A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise can infuse you with energy and help fend off certain diseases. And you don't have to run a marathon or work yourself to extremes to reap the rewards. Moderate-intensity exercise for 30 minutes five times a week can greatly improve your quality of life.

In addition to improving cardiovascular health, maintaining a healthy body weight, and increasing muscle tone, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It can also lower cholesterol, triglyceride levels and high blood pressure, help build strong bones and joints, reduce the effects of stress, and improve your overall sense of well being.

Building Strong Bones

Weight-bearing exercises are particularly important for stimulating bone growth and reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. Activities that fall into the category of weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging/running, dancing, stair climbing, and the use of resistance weight machines or free weights.

Strengthening your Heart

Aerobic exercise is recommended for overall cardiovascular health. Aerobic activity works large muscle groups for a sustained period of time, which elevates heart rate and breathing. Examples include fitness walking, jogging/running, stair climbing, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, and aerobic exercise classes.

Maintaining Body Weight

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 61% of adults are either overweight (a body weight index over 25) or obese (a body mass index over 30). A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to obesity. Regular exercise, on the other hand, can help maintain a healthy body weight by reducing total body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.

Getting Started

Always consult with your health care practitioner before beginning a new exercise program, especially if you have been inactive for an extended period of time. Then find activities you enjoy and start slowly, gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Y Specialty Fitness (previously FoxCare Fitness) offers aquatics, group fitness classes, personal fitness trainers, nutrition counseling, and cardiovascular and strength training equipment. Learn more about what a membership at Y Specialty Fitness includes by visiting for a tour, or by calling or emailing the member services team at (607) 431-5454, or YSFwelcome@oneontaymca.org.