Improving One's Fitness

Improving One's Fitness



In addition to getting your heart pumping, you’ve got to strengthen your bones, joints, and muscles so you can keep your body moving and supported for a long time.

Muscle-strengthening activities involve having muscles work or hold against a force or some weight. Activities like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, lifting weights, and working with resistance bands do this—and so do a good game of tug-of-war, gymnastics, swinging on the monkey bars, and climbing a tree!

Bone-strengthening activities make bones grow and get stronger through an impact (often with the ground) or tension force that promotes bone growth and strength. Activities like running, brisk walking, tennis, basketball, and volleyball are great for your bones, as are hopping, skipping, and jumping. Many bone-strengthening activities may also help strengthen your muscles.

You don’t need to join a gym to get your bones and muscles stronger. Planned exercises (using weights, bands, or your body weight) and activities such as heavy gardening—with all that digging and shoveling—work, too.

Try and choose activities and exercises that work the major muscle groups of your body—legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Exercises for each muscle should be repeated 8 to 12 times per session. As with all exercise, if you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up.

Many activities that strengthen muscle also strengthen bone. (Check out the list of President’s Challenge activities to see which ones are strengthening activities.) Adults should engage in these kinds of activities at least twice a week. Kids should engage in a variety of physical activities that also strengthen muscle and bone at least three times a week.