Common Problems and Solutions for Being Physically Active

Ask your doctor when you can begin a physical activity program. Your doctor can help you find a program suited to your needs and physical condition by providing advice on appropriate types of activities and ways to progress at a safe and steady pace. Your doctor may refer you to a formal cardiac rehabilitation program to help you learn to be physically active safely.

You may also need an exercise stress test before you become active again. Your doctor can tell you what symptoms to watch for during physical activity. If you have any of those symptoms, be sure to follow your health care professional's instructions.

Once your doctor says you can be active, use these tips to get back on track toward your physical activity goals.

Not in the habit of being physically active

  • Keep your exercise clothes in your car, desk or nightstand where you’ll see them and have them handy.
  • Make a large sign to remind you to be physically active. Put it where you can see it easily, such as on your refrigerator, front door, TV or telephone.
  • Ask a family member or friend to remind you to be active throughout the week.
  • Reward for meeting your physical activity goals — treat yourself to a new CD or book, a manicure, a massage or special outing.

Lack of time

  • Break up activities into a few short sessions instead of one longer session.
  • Watch less TV. Giving up one TV show gives you 30 minutes more in your day.
  • Combine physical activities with other things you like to do. For example, meet a friend for a walk instead of for coffee.
  • Be physically active during your lunch break (before you eat) at least once or twice a week.

Not feeling well

  • As soon as you’re well enough to leave the house, set a physical activity plan for the week.
  • After you’ve been sick, start with a light week of activity so you don’t get too tired.
  • Slowly work your way back to your usual physical activity levels.

Bored with exercise

  • Switch between two or three types of aerobic physical activity, such as walking, dancing and tennis.
  • Do your stretching, balance and flexibility activities while you watch TV.
  • Take a new route when you walk, bike or jog.
  • Include a friend or family member so physical activity becomes a social activity, too.
  • Try a new activity, like an aerobics class or a rowing machine.

Pain or injury

  • Switch to a type of activity that doesn’t bother the injured or painful area.
  • If it’s arthritis pain, try exercising in warm water (such as a pool or Jacuzzi).
  • See a doctor for treatment. Ask what types of physical activities you can do.

On the road again…

  • Take workout clothes when you travel.
  • Use your hotel's health club or pool. If there isn't one, ask if the hotel has guest privileges at a nearby health club.
  • Review the Stretching and Flexibility and Strengthening exercises. All of these activities can be done in your hotel room.
  • Ask the hotel desk about nearby walking trails and enlist a traveling companion as a walking buddy.
  • During meeting breaks, walk around while checking and returning messages.