Less than half of U.S. adults get the amount of physical activity recommended in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Studies show that regular physical activity decreases the risk for developing depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and some kinds of cancer.
All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. Physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks. If you don’t have a chronic condition (like diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis) and you don’t have symptoms (e.g., chest pain or pressure, dizziness, or joint pain) you don’t need to talk to a health care provider before you become more active. Physical activity is anything that gets the body moving. Start at a comfortable level. Once this begins to seem easy, add a little more activity each time. Then try doing it more often.
Your body is working at a moderate intensity when you can talk but not sing. Moderate-intensity physical activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, and raking leaves.
Your body is working at a vigorous intensity when you cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Vigorous-intensity physical activity includes things like jogging, jumping rope, swimming laps, or riding a bike uphill.
People of all ages and body types benefit from physical activity. Even if you are out of shape or have not been active in a long time, you can begin activity safely.
Aerobic activity (also called endurance activity) is when you move your body as large muscles in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time and your heart beats faster than usual.
Strengthening activities should be performed on at least two non-consecutive days each week and should target all the major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms.
Stretching can produce the following benefits: increased flexibility, improved joint range of motion, improved circulation, and stress relief. How often should a person stretch? Generally, it is best to stretch when engaging in physical activity. For those who are not active on a regular basis, stretching at least three times per week to maintain flexibility is a good starting point.
By National Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention