Exercise and Fitness

Find your exercise style

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

One of the biggest challenges to sticking with any fitness routine is finding the type of exercise you most enjoy doing, so you will look forward to your activity and stay motivated. Think about activities that appeal to you, and consider their pros and cons.

Weight loss that works: A true story

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

When there are so many articles, books, and TV pitches on how to lose weight, how do you know what works and what’s a gimmick? When life is busy and you don’t want to completely give up the joys of the occasional treat, what’s a person to do. This story combines science and a physician’s personal experience to shed light on the basics of how to really lose weight.

The underappreciated health benefits of being a weekend warrior

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

While it’s been believed that intense exercise only on weekends is not an advisable or effective fitness routine, a new study suggests that, if done safely and for enough time to meet the recommended guidelines, weekend-only exercise can be beneficial.

Personalized activity intelligence: A better way to track exercise?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Small devices and smart phone apps that are designed to track fitness activities don’t necessarily provide the most accurate information. A recent Norwegian study, involving thousands of participants, has led researchers to develop a more precise method for measuring cardiovascular activity on electronic devices. Personalized Activity Intelligence, or PAI, is a formula that converts your heart rate to a number of points, based on your age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate.

What is prediabetes and why does it matter?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Considering the range and severity of health problems caused by diabetes, the focus on treating prediabetes in order to prevent it from becoming diabetes is sensible, and a large study found that it is possible. A healthy diet and adequate physical activity can help most people side step this condition. For some, medication is also necessary.

Your New Year’s resolution: A gym membership?

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

If you are ready to make a commitment to improve your fitness and health, joining a gym gives you a wide variety of options for equipment and types of workouts. This can help you sidestep workout boredom and help you meet recommended physical activity guidelines. But before you sign up, take time to ask questions to be sure the gym meets your needs and budget.

Activity tracker may not be the key to weight loss

Nandini Mani, MD
Nandini Mani, MD, Contributing Editor

A recent study found that using an activity tracker, in addition to a careful diet and increased exercise, may not help people lose weight or keep it off. The reasons why are unclear and further studies are needed to determine how, if at all, these devices might aid in weight loss.

Staying active at “that time of the month”

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The belief that women should avoid exercise or athletics during their menstrual periods, because it can affect performance or increase the risk of injury, is not necessarily true. Good training may reduce the risks of injury and enhance performance much more than trying to time exercise around one’s periods.

Health benefits of hiking: Raise your heart rate and your mood

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Hiking is good for you both physically and mentally. It provides a great cardiovascular workout, improves balance, and is a natural stress reliever. Hikes can range from gentle strolls to uphill terrain, so there’s always a way to challenge yourself. Look for trails near you by checking out local, state, and national parks.

Less than 1 in 10 teens gets enough exercise: What this means for them and says about us

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Teens don’t exercise enough, and with a third of U.S. adults classified as obese, it’s important that exercise is encouraged in children and teens. Starting healthy habits when they’re young keeps kids healthy into adulthood. Studies show that obese adults rarely lose the weight, so it’s better to keep the weight off in the first place. A lot has to do with our biology but also our lifestyle, and we can change the latter. So let’s get our children and teens moving.