Exercise and Fitness – familydoctor.org


Close-up of a young man doing push ups on an exercise mat at home

A lot of exercise advice is geared at people who work out at the gym. Many men, though, either can’t belong to a gym or choose not to. If you don’t have a gym membership, you shouldn’t feel limited or helpless. There still are plenty of ways to get and stay fit outside of the gym. Follow these tips and ideas below.

Path to improved health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes of cardio per week. This breaks down to 30 minutes of fitness 5 times a week. The CDC also says adults should do strength training at least two days a week. Routine exercise can prevent certain health conditions. These include heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. People who exercise are less likely to be overweight, get injured, or fall in old age.

So if you don’t work out at a gym, where do you exercise? The answer is anywhere. You can be active at home or at work, inside or outside. You can exercise by yourself, on a team, or with your family.

A range of activities is available. You can do traditional exercise, such as walking, running, or bicycling. You can play a sport, like basketball or softball. You also can get fitness equipment to use at home or follow video or online exercise programs, such as P90X. You can buy your own hand weights to use or do moves that use your body weight.

It may not always be simple, but these tips will help:

  1. Get motivated. Set small goals that you know you can achieve. Small successes lead to big changes. They’re also what help to change bad habits into good habits. Be specific with your goals. Men are more likely to commit when they sign up for an event. One example is training for a race, such as a 5K or marathon. Once you’ve met a goal, reward yourself!
  2. Switch it up. Varying your fitness routine is crucial. Your body begins to adjust to exercise after a certain amount of time. Change up your speed, weight, or moves. Try new activities, like yoga, or other forms of exercise. Cardio helps with endurance by keeping your heart rate up. Strength training builds muscle. Both cardio and strength training burn calories and are needed to round out your fitness.
  3. Step it up. Aim to get a set number of steps per day. Use an activity tracker to keep track of your steps. Try to take the stairs or park farther away. Go for an evening walk by yourself or take your kids and/or dogs.
  4. The more, the merrier. Find a friend or group of people to exercise with. This is common for men who run or cycle. It helps you stay on track and push yourself.
  5. Make a fitness date with yourself. Some people benefit from marking their calendar or setting a phone alarm.
  6. Be well rounded. You already know you need cardio and strength training. Rotate activities and moves that target your whole body. This means your upper body, lower body, and core.

Things to consider

When you exercise at home, it’s easy to get distracted. Work out in an environment where you can succeed. Your mental outlook also plays a big part. It’s important to stay focused and not take too many rest breaks.

If you’re new to a certain exercise, it’s important to start slow. Build up your speed, reps, or weight as you go to prevent injury or burnout. Talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine. They may want to perform an exam, discuss health risks, or monitor your progress.

What you put in your body is just as important as what you do with your body. Eat nutritious foods that provide fuel to exercise and stay healthy. Learn how to read nutrition labels to see what you’re eating. If you are active, you’ll need to eat more to keep up your metabolism. You still should maintain proper portion control. Staying fit also means staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and as you exercise.

Don’t forget to rest and recover from your workouts. You can do this by stretching before and after you exercise. Build in a day of rest from fitness. Make sure you get enough sleep at night to recharge your body and your brain.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How can I prevent injuries working out at home?
  • Are there certain types of exercise I should avoid?
  • Should I take any vitamins or supplements?


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity Basics

Men’s Fitness: 25 Fitness Tips and Strategies From the Experts

United States Department of Agriculture: MyPlate.gov

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