Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

Fitness and Exercise

  • Aerobic activity raises your heart rate and keeps it up for a while. This increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your heart and muscles. Over time, this kind of activity benefits your heart, your muscles, your mood and self-esteem, and your amount of energy. It can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood...

  • Tai chi and qi gong (say "chee goong") are traditional Chinese movement exercises. They are based on two ideas: Energy, called qi or chi, flows through the body along "energy pathways" called meridians. If the flow of chi is blocked or unbalanced at...

  • Just keep moving, even if it's only a few steps. That's what Robert learned is a key to helping his low back pain. "I discovered that what you have to do is this: You do as much as you can." Robert has been suffering with low back pain for more than 15 years. There have been several times when his back went out and he...

  • Learn about activity and exercise to help reduce low back pain.

  • What are energy and sports drinks? If you listen to the advertising, you might think energy and sports drinks do it all. More energy. Improved performance. Better concentration. But do they? And what's the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks? Energy drinks People use energy drinks because...

  • Find what motivates you to add a little activity to your life and benefit your heart.

  • Find out how exercise helps you control your blood sugar and helps you feel better in other ways too.

  • Learn how to connect with others and find support to achieve your goals.

  • Get ideas for increasing activity in your day-to-day life.

  • Learn how and what to track to help meet your goals.

  • Learn about ways to track eating and activity to support weight-loss goals.

  • Learn five tips to help you keep a healthy lifestyle change going.

  • Find out how adding a little movement to your life may help your mental wellness.

  • Learn ways to exercise at home during the pandemic.

  • Covers ways to be active in fall/winter weather. Offers tips for indoor activities like mall walking or joining a gym. Also covers outdoor exercise options such as raking leaves and shoveling snow. Provides tips on how to dress appropriately and be safe.

  • Covers outdoor summer activities. Offers tips for being safe in heat and humidity, such as drinking plenty of water and staying in shade when you can. Also suggests indoor activities, like mall walking and housework, if heat is too intense.

  • Gloria hasn't always been an active person. Until she retired a few years ago, she didn't have time, she says. Her job at the local college as an administrative assistant kept her busy. And after work, she just didn't have enough energy—or interest—to do any exercise. After she retired, there were other things to keep...

  • Linda works full time, has three young children, and has zero time for the gym. So when she learned that she had prediabetes, she had to find creative ways to fit activity into her day. "My trick is to not call it 'exercise.' Instead, I just look for ways to add small workouts to my day," she says. For example, after...

  • As people age, they lose muscle strength, which can make them more likely to fall. Also, their reflexes slow down. This makes it harder for them to regain their balance if they start to fall. Learn some strength and balance exercises, and take the time to do them each day. This can help you stay active and...

  • Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help keep your muscles strong and reduce joint pain and stiffness. And it can help you reach and stay at a healthy weight. But you want to make sure that you don't hurt your joints when you exercise. Before you get started, ask your doctor what kind of activity would...

  • Provides links to how-to information about physical activity for everyone. Includes info on walking for wellness, reducing back pain, and healthy weight.

  • People who are very physically active sometimes cross the line between sufficient training and too much training. Overtraining usually occurs when the body does not have enough time to recover from the stress of intense training. Signs of overtraining include the following: You constantly feel tired or listless. You...

  • Like all children, those with disabilities need to be as active as possible. But children with disabilities are less likely to be physically active than other children. An inactive lifestyle for these children can lead to other problems, including:...

  • Habits are hard to break. That's why the sooner in life we build good, healthy habits, the easier it is to keep them and stay as healthy as possible. And when good habits are in place, it's easier to resist bad ones. The most important thing to...

  • Physical activity is essential for lifelong health and well-being. A child can't be healthy if he or she isn't playing actively or exercising most days of the week. One of the very best things you can do for your children's health is to help make physical activity a habit—something that will be a natural part of their...

  • Children as young as preschool age benefit from exercise and fitness as much as adults do. Experts recommend that teens and children (starting at age 6) do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day. And 3 or more days a week, what they choose to do should: Make them breathe harder and make the heart beat...

  • Learn how to make healthy changes that can help delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

  • What is low back pain all about? Dr. Robert Keller, an orthopedic surgeon, shares his thoughts about the basics. Dr. Keller, many people have low back pain. When someone sees you about low back pain, what do you tell that person? Dr. Keller: This really depends on the cause. If it appears the pain is...

  • You may already know that being more active is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and quality of life. But you may wonder how you can be active if you can't stand up to exercise. No matter how old you are, how fit you are, or what health problems you have, there is a form of exercise that will work...

  • Learn how to measure the intensity of an activity so you can achieve your goals for a healthier life.

  • Learn how to keep your core strong and prevent injury with two simple exercises.

  • How is it that two people of the same age, gender, and height can eat the same foods and be equally active, but one gains weight while the other loses it? One piece of the puzzle is metabolism. How well your body burns energy to keep up basic functions like heartbeat, breathing, and thinking is called your basal...

  • Learn how to do two exercises to improve your strength and balance.

  • Discover the benefits of being physically active, and explore ideas for activities you might try.

  • Learn how to start moving more and get back into exercising.

  • Loosen up and learn the basics of stretching.

  • Learn how exercise is good for your heart and how to be active and safe.

  • It's never too late to start getting active. Being fit is important for everyone. You can benefit from physical activity even if you think of yourself as "elderly" or you already have conditions such as arthritis or heart disease. Being more active will help you feel better and may even help you live longer. If you...

  • Try a few gentle and safe exercises to build your strength.

  • Learn two simple yoga poses that can help reduce stress.

  • Learn how regular exercise can help your heart get stronger and healthier.

  • Learn how activity can help reduce joint pain and how to exercise safely when you have arthritis.

  • Learn how to do curl-ups to strengthen your core.

  • Learn how to do the press-up exercise to stretch your belly muscles and increase flexibility in your lower back.

  • Learn how one older adult started and stayed with a fitness program.

  • Learn how a health crisis motivated others to get active.

  • Learn how to overcome obstacles to getting fit.

  • Picture yourself making physical activity a routine, and practice taking small steps to get started.

  • Picture an exercise plan you would enjoy, and commit to taking small steps to get there.

  • Commit to taking small steps to stay active with COPD.

  • See how other teens have gotten more active and had fun too.

  • Learn simple exercises that you can do while sitting down.

  • See how other women who had gestational diabetes found ways to be active.

  • Covers benefits and risks of complementary and alternative medicine. Provides links to various therapies, including homeopathy, yoga, acupuncture, and herbal supplements. Also includes links to tools to help you decide if complementary medicine is right for you.

  • Tells how to exercise to improve health with congestive heart failure. Includes need for doctor's okay and exercise plan. Includes tips on physical activity like stretching, walking, swimming, lifting weights, yoga, and tai chi.

  • Exercise is about more than keeping in shape. It also can help with your emotional and mental health. Exercise can help you improve your self-esteem, keep your mind off problems, and give you a sense of control. In general, people who are fit have...

  • Being active is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. It can also help you keep peripheral arterial disease (PAD) from getting worse. Regular exercise can help you manage high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can help control PAD and reduce your...

  • Yoga is a mind and body practice that involves movement, breathing exercises, and a focus on thoughts and feelings as they happen (mindfulness). It began in ancient India as a spiritual practice, based on the idea that the mind and body are one. But...

  • Defines fitness and why you need to exercise. Covers topics such as flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle fitness. Offers tips on becoming more active, establishing fitness routines, and maintaining a fit lifestyle. Also covers injury prevention.

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises can help a child who has juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) control pain and stiffness and maintain mobility. A physical therapist can help figure out how much exercise is appropriate for each child. Stretching exercises are those in which the joints are moved through...

  • Physical activity is one of the best things you can do to help prevent a heart attack and stroke. Being active is one part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy foods, not smoking, and staying at a healthy weight are other ways you can be...

  • Keep the following in mind as you start an exercise program or try to lose weight while you are breastfeeding. Exercise Being active helps promote weight loss, improves your energy level, and can help you relieve stress. Follow these tips when you start an exercise program while you are breastfeeding...

  • You can safely exercise when you have diabetes. Here are some tips. Talk to your doctor about how and when to exercise. You may need to have a medical exam and tests (such as a treadmill test) before you begin. Also, some types of exercise can be...

  • Exercise is an important part of home treatment for people who have multiple sclerosis (MS). It has benefits in both early and advanced stages of the disease. Regular exercise can help you: Maintain muscle strength and improve coordination. Maintain...

  • Exercise can't control the HIV infection. But exercise may help you feel better by reducing stress. Exercise may also help your immune system work better. Exercise: Is safe. Improves strength and endurance. Improves heart and lung fitness. May help...

  • Exercise is one of the most important treatments for fibromyalgia. Regular exercise will strengthen your muscles, increase blood flow to the muscles, and increase your endurance. It also may reduce the risk of tiny injuries to the muscles that may...

  • Food provides energy for physical activity. As you get more active and more fit, and/or as you lose weight, your energy needs (how many calories you need) may change. To get the energy you require, you need to get the proper amount of: Protein, which is needed to maintain and rebuild tissues such as muscles...

  • Exercise helps lower high blood pressure, which is an important risk factor for stroke. Exercise can help you control other things that put you at risk, such as obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is important to exercise regularly. Do...

  • Avoid unplanned eating and drinking Having regular low-calorie snacks throughout the day along with regular smaller meals is a good way to manage your hunger. Plan snacks as part of your overall calories for the day, and avoid eating unplanned calories. Do not sample the food while cooking. When...

  • Physical activity increases the amount of energy (calories) you burn. Most weight-loss programs incorporate an exercise program—such as jogging or biking. And you can also use more energy by changing some of your routine activities, such as washing...

  • There are many ways that adults can help children and teens develop a healthy approach to food and exercise. Avoid punishing or rewarding your children with food. Be a good role model for healthy eating and exercising. Be a good role model by having...

  • Exercise is an important part of home treatment for people with Parkinson's disease. It has benefits in both early and advanced stages of the disease. Regular exercise can help you: Keep and improve muscle strength and endurance. Control your weight...

  • The following tips may help you stand and walk using good posture: Keep your ear, shoulder, hip, and ankle in a line. Avoid locking your knees while standing. Try placing one foot on a low stool if you must stand in one position for a long time. Switch feet every few minutes. Keep your lower back in the neutral...

  • Stretching will help you as you become more active. It may help prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness and cramping. It will also help you with everyday tasks, such as tasks where you need to reach for things or bend over. Types of stretches include a calf stretch, groin stretch, and hamstring stretch. Here's one...

  • Many people choose to exercise with fitness machines such as treadmills, stair-climbers, stationary bicycles, and cross-country skiing machines. These all offer aerobic conditioning and may also strengthen muscles. Fitness machines can be great for exercising when the weather is bad or days are short. You may also like...

  • Even when you know the good things about being active, you may find it hard to change your lifestyle until you deal with the reasons you give yourself for not being active. Barriers to exercise include the valid reasons you aren't active and the excuses you make to avoid something you dislike or fear. Why don't you...

  • There are three kinds of fitness: Aerobic fitness. Aerobic activities condition your heart and lungs. Aerobic means "with oxygen." The purpose of aerobic conditioning is to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to work longer. Any activity that raises your...

  • If you have an irregular heartbeat ( arrhythmia), ask your doctor what type and level of exercise is safe for you. Regular activity can help keep your heart and body healthy. The type and amount of exercise that is allowable will vary depending on the cause of your abnormal heart rhythm and whether you have other...

  • Covers importance of exercising regularly when you have coronary artery disease. Guides you through steps of starting a complete exercise program that includes aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching. Explains how to set goals you can reach.

  • Regular exercise may help control your diabetes, which can reduce your risk of severe diabetic neuropathy. Depending on what areas of your body have been affected by nerve damage, though, you may need to modify some aspects of your exercise program so that other problems don't develop. Before beginning an exercise...

  • Covers why walking is good wellness exercise. Offers tips on beginning a walking exercise plan. Discusses how to make walking a part of your life. Covers safety.

  • Covers exercises that are helpful for a person with osteoarthritis. Includes aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises, and tips to motivate yourself. Includes things to avoid. Looks at why it is important to exercise and gives tips on how to exercise.

  • People who have heart failure can be active and enjoy life. Daily activities. If you have heart failure, you may find that your symptoms make it difficult to do things like cook, clean, bathe, or shop. You can deal with these limitations in various ways. For example, you can rearrange your kitchen to make...

  • Helps you calculate your target heart rate based on your age, resting heart rate, and activity level. Covers using your target heart rate to know how hard to exercise to gain the most aerobic benefit from your workout.

  • Helps you calculate the number of calories burned during exercise and daily activities like walking. Explains that you don't have to "work out" to be active. Covers building more physical activity into your daily life.

  • Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) can help you measure how hard your body is working when you exercise. For most people, working at a moderate to vigorous level will help you get the most benefit from your exercise. If you have health problems, your RPE goal may be different. Talk with your doctor before you start...

  • If you are in a cardiac rehab program, you are probably taking medicines for your heart and for other health reasons. Some prescribed medicines can change your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall ability to exercise. It's important for your rehab team to know what medicines you take. Give your rehab team a list of...

  • There are several ways to measure your body's responses to exercise and other lifestyle changes. You may want to keep track of the following measurements during your exercise sessions at cardiac rehab and at home. Target heart rate Your target heart rate can guide you to how hard you need to exercise so you can get...

  • Some activities require specific gear, and learning about buying gear is your responsibility as you learn the sport or activity. Always use the safety gear recommended for your chosen activity, such as a helmet and knee pads. Learn about the use and proper fit of such safety equipment. If you are just trying out a new...

  • Covers ways to exercise and stay active with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Explains that exercise makes muscles and heart stronger and may improve shortness of breath. Includes warning to talk to your doctor before starting exercise.

  • A spinal cord injury (SCI) makes movement difficult. Movement is what keeps your muscles and joints flexible and helps prevent spasticity. If you cannot move your muscles and joints easily, you may lose some of your range of motion. This will make it harder to perform daily activities, such as getting dressed or moving...

  • When you are living with health problems, regular exercise and activity are important. They keep you healthier, give you energy, make you stronger, and help your mood. Exercise and activity can help many health problems. An active body is less likely to give in to diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, arthritis...

  • Use this sheet to list what you enjoy and what is hard for you. You and your doctor can use this information to come up with an activity plan. How active are you? Describe what you do to stretch, strengthen, and move your body. Write down how often and how long you do each activity. What would you like to do? List...

  • Exercise can reduce pain and improve function in people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Also, exercise may help prevent the buildup of scar tissue, which can lead to weakness and stiffness. Exercise for arthritis takes three forms: stretching, strengthening, and conditioning. Stretching involves moving...

  • Plantar fasciitis in athletes is often the result of overtraining. You will need to reduce your level of activity. Or you will need to switch to another type of activity that puts less stress on your feet. This, combined with stretching, anti-inflammatory drugs, and making sure that you have good-quality shoes, will...

  • If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you have an opportunity to prevent the progression of this condition to type 2 diabetes. By getting regular exercise, changing your diet, and losing weight, you can play a key role in preventing diabetes. Any type of physical activity may be beneficial, such as: Sports or...

  • Yoga is a mind and body practice that involves movement, breathing exercises, and a focus on thoughts and feelings as they happen (mindfulness). It began in ancient India as a spiritual practice, based on the idea that the mind and body are one. But today, more people practice yoga for overall health, including...

  • Highlights reasons for using a pedometer when walking for exercise. Describes pedometers, and offers directions for calibrating, if needed. Answers various questions regarding pedometer use, as well as getting the most from your pedometer.

  • Children who take insulin are at risk of hypoglycemia during and after exercise. But with good planning and awareness, a child can exercise and participate in sports safely. Good planning means checking blood sugars before, during, and after exercise. Then, you can keep a record of how exercise affects your child's...

  • Resistance training with weights, elastic bands, or your own body weight may help you regain the physical strength and confidence to do the daily tasks you performed before your heart problem or surgery. Resistance training can help you get the most benefit from your cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program. Do...

  • Covers walking as one of the easiest ways to increase your physical activity and improve your health. Explains what you need to know before starting a walking program. Includes how to stay motivated.

  • Marking progress Use the chart below to keep track of how much activity you are getting. Include not only long walks or workouts, but also anytime you do something extra, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking at the far end of the lot at a store. Physical activity log Day of the week...

  • Offers key points for adding more activity to your life. Covers starting a program, setting goals for your program, and picking the right activity. Discusses barriers to exercising and getting the support you need from friends and family.

  • No matter what your health goal is, creating a specific plan can help you succeed. Follow the steps below to create your plan. This will put you on a path toward meeting your goal. Why is this change important to you? Make sure it's something...

  • Covers how to stick with an exercise or activity program once you have started. Offers tips on how to keep goals fresh and interest high. Describes what you need to do to stay active and motivated. Provides questions to help guide decision process.

  • Discusses challenges of being a new parent and continuing to exercise. Covers amount of exercise needed for health and why it's important. Also offers tips on how to fit exercise into daily routine at home, at parks or playgrounds, and gyms.

  • When you stay active, you feel better and have more energy for work and leisure time. You're more able to do the things you enjoy, like playing with children, gardening, dancing, or biking. Staying fit helps you sleep better, handle stress better, and keep your mind sharp. It's good for your heart, lungs, bones, and...

  • Discusses how to stay active even while traveling. Offers packing tips, such as taking exercise equipment. Also suggests ways to exercise at the airport (walking laps in the terminal). Also offers ideas for exercises you can do while in a motel/hotel.

  • Presents series of questions/answers regarding being active. Covers topics such as sticking with exercise programs, importance of knowing your preferences, your attitudes toward exercising, as well as choosing the best activity for you.

  • You may be worried about having enough energy to exercise. These tips can help. And remember this: Exercise can actually give you more energy. After they start to be more active, most people feel more energetic throughout the day. Eat a balanced diet Unless you're exercising for an hour or more, you...

  • Explains that many everyday activities can get your heart rate up and meet physical activity needs. Lists 11 things you can do at home, such as walking your dog and vacuuming. Also covers things you can do at work to include exercise.

  • It's best to increase your activity in all three areas of fitness: flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle fitness. You can work on all three areas without leaving home. If you have heart problems or other health issues, or if you have not been active for a long time, check with your doctor before you start a new...

  • When the whole family is involved in physical activities together, children learn that being active is fun and makes you feel good. And busy parents can combine family time with exercise time. Try these tips for getting everyone in the family up and moving together: Getting started As a family, make a list of...

  • Exercise plays a big role in helping Maggie Morris stay in good shape. She got more active along with making healthier food choices. Her regular routine includes 45 minutes of exercise three or four days a week. She usually uses a recumbent bike or an indoor skier, which mimics the cross-country skiing that she loves...

  • No matter what your exercise goal is, making a specific plan can help you be more successful. Follow these steps to create your plan. Then bring this sheet when you visit your doctor so you can refine your plan together. You may also want a personal trainer or fitness expert who can help you with your exercise goals...

  • During his career, Bob couldn't find time for exercise. He worked hard and traveled a lot for his job. Fast-food meals were a way of life on the road, and he was overweight. At age 59, he had a heart attack. Then, 5 years later, he had quadruple bypass surgery. A few years after the surgery, he found out he had...

  • For inspiration to exercise, John hasn't had to look far. His father rides his bike daily to prevent another heart attack. John's grandparents and others in his family also had heart disease. John's doctor told him that his steady weight gain over the years was putting him in danger of heart problems as well. "He said...

  • For inspiration to exercise, John hasn't had to look far. His father rides his bike daily to prevent another heart attack. John's grandparents and others in his family also had heart disease. John's doctor told him that his steady weight gain over the years was putting him in danger of heart problems as well. "He said...

  • When Kris retired several years ago, she decided that she was out of excuses. It was time to make time to get fit and stay fit. "I knew I needed to do something. I felt like all my muscles were starting to atrophy. Now I feel like I'm so much more toned. I'm not buff, but I'm toned. I can definitely feel the...

  • Muscle fitness is one of three important types of overall physical fitness. The others are aerobic fitness and flexibility. When you increase your muscle fitness, you'll notice that you can carry heavy grocery bags more easily, pick up children without feeling as much strain, or carry heavy items longer before you...

  • "Why me?" That's what Cal asked himself over and over after he was diagnosed with severe COPD 5 years ago. "I spent the first 2 years moping around the house, feeling sorry for myself," he says. "I didn't go anywhere, I didn't do anything. I just sat in front of the TV and tried not to think about anything." Then one...

  • To help find safe and fun ways to be active: Ask yourself questions to discover your physical activity likes and dislikes. Fitness: Choosing Activities That Are Right for You Pick an activity that you enjoy or think you might enjoy. You're more likely to keep doing something you like. Be sure you have the correct...

  • "It wasn't that I was sick or anything. But I didn't have the energy I used to, and I was starting to worry about my future health." That worry is what led Shellie, 39, to take a good, long look at her daily habits. "Staying in shape takes time," she said, "and time is what I just don't have as a single mom with a...

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