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Physical activity can be defined as any movement of the body that requires energy expenditure. This includes any motion you do through the day excluding sitting still or lying down.
For example, walking to class, taking the stairs, mowing the lawn, and even cleaning your house can be considered physical activity. Exercise is a type of physical activity but not every physical activity is exercise. Exercise is a planned, structured, and repetitive activity for the purpose of improving or maintain physical fitness.
Why should I be physically active?
The fight against obesity:
More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. In simplest terms, obesity is unnecessary fat buildup that harms health. Obesity has a wide range of medical complications;
- Pulmonary disease
- Gall bladder disease
- And many more.
The cause of obesity in two people is rarely the same – genetics, lifestyles, and even viruses all play a role.
Fighting obesity can be influenced by certain risk-factors. The modifiable risk factors related to obesity include physical activity, excess caloric intake, and low socioeconomic status. There are also non-modifiable risk factors; age, heredity, ethnicity/race, culture, and metabolism.
Obesity is a growing epidemic in our nation. The change starts with us. Using this physical activity guide can give you the proper steps towards an obese free neighborhood, city, and nation.
What the experts say:
Performing physical activity on a regular basis will help to improve overall health and fitness, as well as decrease the risk for many chronic diseases (Center for Disease Control, 2010).
- HEALTH: The World Health Association defines it as, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
- HEALTH-RELATED FITNESS: The American Academy of Sport Medicine defines health-related fitness as a set of attributes one already has or works towards. This develops through physical activity and aids in the performance of daily function with vigor and without fatigue.
- CHRONIC DISEASES: A condition that impairs daily living, decreases longevity and quality of life. Some examples include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Physical Activity
- Reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic health conditions
- Help with weight control
- Strengthens bones and muscles
- Improves mental health, mood, and energy level
- Better quality life
Why is physical activity so important for health and well-being?
We know that staying active is one of the best ways to keep our bodies healthy. But did you know it can also improve your overall well-being and quality of life?
Here are just a few of the ways physical activity can help you feel better, look better and live better. Because, why not?
It’s a natural mood lifter.
Regular physical activity can relieve stress, anxiety, depression and anger. You know that “feel good sensation” you get after doing something physical? Think of it as a happy pill with no side effects! Most people notice they feel better over time as physical activity becomes a regular part of their lives.
It keeps you physically fit and able.
Without regular activity, your body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function properly. It’s like the old saying: you don’t stop moving from growing old, you grow old from stopping moving. Exercise increases muscle strength, which in turn increases your ability to do other physical activities.
It helps keep the doctor away.
Stand up when you eat your apple a day! Too much sitting and other sedentary activities can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had an 80% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Being more active can help you:
- lower your blood pressure
- boost your levels of good cholesterol
- improve blood flow (circulation)
- keep your weight under control
- prevent bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis
All of this can add up to fewer medical expenses, interventions and medications later in life!
It can help you live longer.
It’s true, 70 is the new 60… but only if you’re healthy. People who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about seven years longer than those who are not active and are obese. And the important part is that those extra years are generally healthier years! Staying active helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging. So active adults maintain their quality of life and independence longer as they age.
Other benefits you may get with physical activity:
- Helps you quit smoking and stay tobacco-free.
- Boosts your energy level so you can get more done.
- Helps you manage stress and tension.
- Promotes a positive attitude and outlook.
- Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
- Improves your self-image and self-confidence.
- Helps you spend more time outdoors.
It is recommend that at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. You can knock that out in just 30-40 minutes a day, 6 days a week. And every minute of moderate to vigorous activity counts toward your goal.
So, this is easy! Just move more, with more intensity, and sit less. You don’t have to make big life changes to see the benefits. Just start building more activity into your day, one step at a time.
Physical activity is any movement that increases your heart rate and breathing. Being physically active improves your health and well-being. It has benefits for all ages, including reducing your risk for chronic diseases, improving your sleep, increasing your energy, and improving self-confidence and mental health. Adding more physical activity to your day provides extra health benefits.1
Some examples of physical activity are:
- Going for a walk, jogging or run
- Doing household responsibilities.
- Taking the steps instead of the elevator.
- Playing at the park.
- Clear up leaves or shoveling snow.
Physical activity is important throughout your life, but what about physical literacy? Just as children learn language skills through reading and writing, they also need to learn movement skills through running, kicking, throwing, catching and jumping. When children learn these movement skills they improve their physical literacy and become more confident and comfortable with doing these movements, and when this happens children want to play and be active for a lifetime.
Physical activity endorsements by age:
- 0 to 4 years – 180 minutes daily, spread throughout the day
- 5 to 17 years – 60 minutes each day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity
- 18 years and older – 150 minutes each week of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, in bouts of 10 minutes or more
There are different levels, or intensities, of physical activity based on how hard your body has to work.
You can usually tell that you are doing a moderate-intensity physical activity if you can talk but not sing a song while doing an activity.
- brisk walking,
- playground activities
You can usually tell that you are doing a vigorous-intensity physical activity if you are not able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
- running, and
Strength and balance
For ages 5 to 17, it is important to include activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three times per week. For adults 18 years and older, it is beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice per week. For adults 60 years and older it’s important to perform activities to enhance balance and prevent falls.
- lifting weights,
Working with resistance bands,
push-ups or modified push-ups