Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, most or all days of the week. Typically, 30 minutes a day offers disease-prevention benefits, while 60 minutes helps with weight maintenance. Working out for 90 minutes a day helps on both fronts—and melts additional pounds. Regular exercise also cuts the risk of heart disease and diabetes, improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promotes better sleep, and builds healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
Some diets offer specific exercise routines—Jenny Craig members get programs tailored to their individual fitness level, for example—while other diets do no more than recommend it. If that's the case, remember that exercise need not be drudgery. Take a Zumba dance class, go hiking, jump rope, or bounce on a trampoline. Try kayaking, pilates, or swimming; vigorous household chores and yard work count, too. For the best conditioning, switch up your routine every 12 weeks, including frequency, intensity, and type. And avoid an all-or-nothing mentality: It's better to take a 30-minute walk five times a week than to run half a marathon on just one day. [Read more: Don't Just Diet—Exercise to Lose Weight, Too.]
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