Today there is a growing emphasis on looking good, feeling good, and living longer. Increasingly, scientific evidence tells us that one of the keys to achieving these ideals is fitness through exercise. But if you spend your days at a sedentary job and pass your evenings as a “couch potato,” it may require determination and commitment to make regular activity a part of your daily routine.

Your exercise program should include something from each of the four basic fitness components that I described in last week’s column. Here are the amounts of activity necessary for the average, healthy person to maintain a minimum level of overall fitness (including some of the popular exercises for each category):

Warm-up 5-10 minutes of exercise such as walking or slow jogging.

Muscular strength a minimum of two 20-minute sessions per week, including exercises for all the major muscle groups. Lifting weights is the most effective way to increase strength.

Muscular endurance at least three 30-minute sessions each week, including exercises such as pushups or situps.

Cardiorespiratory endurance at least three 20-minute bouts of continuous aerobic activity. Popular activities include walking briskly, jogging, and swimming.

Flexibility 10-12 minutes of daily stretching exercises performed slowly with a bouncing motion. Cool down with a minimum of 5 minutes of slow walking, low-level exercise combined with stretching.

Lynn Pass is owner of The Gym in Oneonta. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance from Auburn University and personal training and aerobic certifications in ACE, AFFA, and ACSM.