Common activities that can help you lose weight

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You don’t need to spend a lot of money on weight loss.

Here are some common physical activities that can help you achieve your goal.


Walking is free and easy to do—and you can do it almost anywhere. Walking will help you

  • burn calories
  • improve your fitness
  • lift your mood
  • strengthen your bones and muscles

If you are concerned about safety, try walking in a shopping mall or park where it is well lit and other people are around.

Many malls and parks have benches where you can take a quick break. Walking with a friend or family member is safer than walking alone and may provide the social support you need to meet your activity goals.

If you don’t have time for a long walk, take several short walks instead. For example, instead of a 30-minute walk, add three 10-minute walks to your day. Shorter spurts of activity are easier to fit into a busy schedule.


Dancing can be a lot of fun while it tones your muscles, strengthens your heart and lungs, and boosts your mood. You can dance at a health club, dance studio, or even at home.

Just turn on some lively music and start moving. You also can dance to a video on your TV or computer.

If you have trouble standing on your feet for a long time, try dancing while sitting down. Chair dancing lets you move your arms and legs to music while taking the weight off your feet.


Riding a bicycle spreads your weight among your arms, back, and hips. For outdoor biking, you may want to try a mountain bike.

Mountain bikes have wider tires and are sturdier than bikes with thinner tires. You can buy a larger seat to make biking more comfortable.

For indoor biking, you may want to try a recumbent bike. On this type of bike, you sit lower to the ground with your legs reaching forward to the pedals.

Your body is in more of a reclining position, which may feel better than sitting straight up. The seat on a recumbent bike is also wider than the seat on a regular bike.

If you decide to buy a bike, check how much weight it can support to make sure it is safe for you.

Water workouts

Swimming and water workouts put less stress on your joints than walking, dancing, or biking. If your feet, back, or joints hurt when you stand, water activities may be best for you.

If you feel self-conscious about wearing a bathing suit, you can wear shorts and a T-shirt while you swim.

Exercising in water

  • lets you be more flexible. You can move your body in water in ways you may not be able to on land.
  • reduces your risk of hurting yourself. Water provides a natural cushion, which keeps you from pounding or jarring your joints.
  • helps prevent sore muscles.
  • keeps you cool, even when you are working hard.

You don’t need to know how to swim to work out in water. You can do shallow- or deep-water exercises at either end of the pool without swimming.

For instance, you can do laps while holding onto a kickboard and kicking your feet. You also can walk or jog across the width of the pool while moving your arms.

For shallow-water workouts, the water level should be between your waist and chest. During deep-water workouts, most of your body is underwater. For safety and comfort, wear a foam belt or life jacket.

Strength training

Strength training involves using free weights, weightlifting machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight to make your muscles stronger. Lower-body strength training will improve your balance and prevent falls.

Strength training may help you

  • build and maintain strong muscles as you get older
  • continue to perform activities of daily living, such as carrying groceries or moving furniture
  • keep your bones strong, which may help prevent osteoporosis and fractures

If you are just starting out, using a weightlifting machine may be safer than dumbbells. As you get fit, you may want to add free-weight exercises with dumbbells.

You do not need a weight bench or large dumbbells to do strength training at home. You can use a pair of hand weights to do bicep curls. You can also use your own body weight: for example, get up and down from a chair.

Proper form is very important when lifting weights. You may hurt yourself if you don’t lift weights properly.

You may want to schedule a session with a certified fitness professional to learn which exercises to do and how to do them safely. Check with your health insurer about whether your health plan covers these services.

If you decide to buy a home gym, check how much weight it can support to make sure it is safe for you.

Mind and body exercise

Your local hospital or fitness, recreation, or community center may offer classes such as yoga, tai chi, or Pilates.

You also may find some of these workouts online and can download them to a computer, smart phone, or other device. These types of activities may help you

  • become stronger and more flexible
  • feel more relaxed
  • improve balance and posture

These classes also can be a lot of fun and add variety to your workout routine.

If some movements are hard to do or you have injuries you are concerned about, talk with the instructor about how to adapt the exercises and poses to meet your needs—or start with a beginner’s class.

Daily life activities

Daily life activities, such as cleaning out the attic or washing the car, are great ways to get moving. Small changes can add more physical activity to your day and improve your health. Try these:

  • Take 2- to 3-minute walking breaks at work several times a day, if possible.
  • Stand, walk, or stretch in place during TV commercials.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever you can.
  • Park farther from where you are going and walk the rest of the way.

Even a shopping trip can be exercise because it provides a chance to walk and carry your bags. Chores such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and gardening also count.

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News source: NIH. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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