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Secrets of Easy Exercise

girl getting ready to exercise

If you could get away with it, would you rather be vegging on the couch most of the time? Are you too busy to think about exercising? If you're like many teens, you probably aren't getting your recommended 60 minutes of daily activity.

True, an hour can seem like a lot of time to set aside. But consider this: You don't have to do it all at once. You can break up your 60 minutes of activity into short chunks of 10 to 15 minutes -- or even very short 2- to 5-minute spurts -- throughout the day.

Still seem like a lot? Here's another secret: Just start adding extra movements to your everyday routine. Like walk around the room while you talk on the phone. Or do a few leg-lifts while you lounge on the couch.

Once you start moving more -- even just a little -- you'll see how easy exercise can be. And when you’re more active, you get more energy to do the things you want. The key is to get yourself moving more. It doesn't even have to seem like exercise.

Why Your Moves Matter

Moving keeps your body's energy cycle in balance.

Every day you eat food to fuel yourself (measured in calories). Then you burn that fuel living your life, says James Levine, MD, in his book Move a Little, Lose a Lot. Getting up, chewing your breakfast, walking to class, and brushing your teeth all burn calories. When you eat more calories than you burn, it can lead to unhealthy weight gain, and that can make you feel lousy and cause major health problems, even in teens.

Levine says that when you sit for a long time (like on the couch while you study or play video games), your body “switches off” some of its fat-burning. For example, enzymes that help break down fat in your blood go into hibernation if you're too still for too long. That means these fats -- one of the major triggers of dangerous heart disease -- build up in your blood.

It may seem like you don’t have to worry about that until you’re older, but research shows that all-day sitting raises the risk of heart disease in both old and young people. A study found that less sitting and more movement during the day lowers the risk of heart disease for both couch potatoes and regular exercisers.

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