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The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Being physically active is an important part of overall health and quality of life. Even if you are not trying to lose weight, it is important to be physically active every day. Physical activity benefits both your physical and your mental health. Physical activity can:

  • Help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Reduce risk for chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Improve mood and reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and stress
  • Improve concentration and memory
  • Improve fitness levels
  • Help lose weight and maintain weight loss
  • Improve sleep
  • Build strength, flexibility and balance


How much physical activity do I need?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This should be spread throughout the week and occur in episodes of at least 10 minutes. The more physical activity you do, the more you will benefit. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans also recommends that adults also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or high intensity that targets all major muscle groups on 2 or more days each week.

What is physical activity?

Often when we think of physical activity, we think about jogging or working out at a gym. However, there are many ways be physically active. Instead of exercising, strive toward active living. Find ways around the house, in the yard, at work or in your neighborhood to be active. Here are just a few examples: speed-clean your house or apartment, play outside with your kids or grandkids, park at the far end of a parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk with a friend instead of talking on the phone, take a walk on your lunch break, sweep the deck, patio, garage, walkway or kitchen, mow the lawn with a push mower, walk the dog. Walking is one of the simplest and safest ways to be active.

How can I reach my physical activity goal?

Time is often the biggest obstacle to physical activity. If you have trouble finding time for physical activity, try doing just 10 minutes at a time. Make a plan and schedule it into your day. Even if 150 minutes doesn’t seem possible, any physical activity is better than no physical activity. You can increase your amount of physical activity over time. Another way to increase physical activity is to have the support of a friend or family member. Being active with someone else makes it more fun and helps keep you on track! And remember, the best type of physical activity is the one that you enjoy! Any mix of aerobic and strength training activities will benefit your health.