Tips to Improve Your Fitness

Runner at the UT Arboretum

About 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week is the recommended minimum amount for adults. While jogging is an excellent choice, UT Extension specialists say other, less strenous forms of activity can be beneficial, especially for those unused to physical activity. Photo courtesy UTIA.


What comes to mind when you hear the words physical activity?  If you are like many, your thoughts may race to images of gym memberships, confusing workout equipment and intimidating classes. Yet, this does not have to be the case.  Physical activity can be fun, simple, and with a little planning easy to fit into your daily routine.

Soghra Jarvandi, Assistant Professor with UT Extension, says adults should strive to begin or maintain a physically active lifestyle. “Adults should work toward at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, which is about 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week. That’s the recommendation listed in the most recent Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published in 2008 by the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion,” states Jarvandi. “This activity can be anything you enjoy doing, and it does not have to involve any special equipment or gym memberships."

If you are not ready to take on 30 minutes of physical activity, five times per week, don’t worry. According to Christopher Sneed, a Family and Consumer Sciences Specialist with UT Extension, it is okay to start small and work toward a longer-term goal of meeting the physical activity guidelines. “To get started”, reiterates Sneed, “you can begin to think of ways to incorporate physical activity into your day whether at home, at work or at play.”
Jarvandi and Sneed offer these simple suggestions to get you started:
At Home:
• Exercise while watching television.
• Use chores as a way to move more - clean the house or wash the car.
• Walk the dog - don’t just watch the dog walk.
• Play with the kids - splash in a puddle, dance, toss a softball or kick around a soccer ball.
• Push the baby stroller.

At Work:
• Replace your “coffee break” with a brisk 5- or 10-minute walk.
• Walk with a co-worker during lunch.
• Try walking meetings.
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
• Park your car a little further from the building’s entrance.
• Get on and off the bus a couple of blocks away from your work.

At Play:
• Walk up and down the soccer or ball field sidelines while watching your kids play.
• Take a nature walk.
• Plant and take care of a garden.
• Instead of calling friends, plan to take a walk together and chat.
• Start your day with some gentle stretching.
For additional information, contact your county’s UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent at your local county Extension office. You can also visit the UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences website:

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.
Dr. Christopher Sneed, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences,