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Updated on February 22, 2016
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Physical Activity

Of all the things we can do for our health, few are more generally helpful than physical exercise.

Engaging in active sports including jogging, brisk walking, and biking, is enough to get the heart beating faster and to cause you to break a sweat. Such activities can improve endurance and help to prevent heart attack and stroke. Even better is to combine such aerobic exercise with moderate weight training and calisthenics to help strengthen bones, internal muscles, and limbs. These activities also contribute to maintaining a higher metabolism, which automatically helps to control weight. Exercise need not be painful or extreme to be effective. A regular period of moderate exercise at least three to four times a week for 60 minutes is beneficial. So what holds you back?


Motivation

First, exert your brain. Think about all of the positive benefits of physical activity. We feel happier, think more clearly, have more energy and strength, and are more productive. Think about all the reasons you want to be physically fit.

Weight Loss

Physical activities along with a nutritionally beneficial diet help to control weight. Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity. Age, ethnicity, shape, or size do not matter.

The benefits of weight loss include:

Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease

Lowered risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome

Lowered risk for certain cancers

Stronger bones and muscles

Improved mental health and mood

Improved ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you are an older adult

Increased chances of living longer

Exercise Is Fun

Exercise is beneficial for people of all ages, and membership in a gym is not a requirement. Instead of using a car or elevator, try walking or taking the stairs. Parents can encourage their children to participate in physical play, outdoors whenever possible. Such activity strengthens bodies and helps to develop whole-body coordination in ways that sedentary entertainment, such as video games, cannot.


Gradual Activity

By slowly starting an exercise routine, the risks of cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are minimal. However, the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you do not usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like shoveling snow. That is why it is important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.

People of any age can benefit from moderate exercise. If you have health problems or concerns and have not been exercising, consult a physician about how to begin. Exercise that is started gradually and not overdone can help even the oldest among us to maintain muscle strength and bone mass. It can also help seniors to avoid falls. Exercising with a partner, relative or neighbor sharing the same fitness goals is a motivator that helps physical activity become an enjoyable habit.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010.

  • More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese.
  • More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
  • About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
  • Source: www.niddk.nih.gov

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