01 May 2017

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Importance of Physical Activity For All

Everyone should be physically active on a regular basis to improve overall health and fitness and to prevent many adverse health outcomes. Studies have always looked at the role of physical activity in many groups—men and women, children, teens, adults, older adults, people with disabilities, and women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. What researchers found was that it doesn’t matter whether you are generally healthy, at risk of developing a chronic disease, or have a current chronic condition or disability, physical activity can provide you benefits.

Health Benefits Associated With Regular Physical Activity

Children and Adolescents

Strong evidence

  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers
  • Favorable body composition

Moderate evidence

  • Reduced symptoms of depression

Adults and Older Adults

Strong evidence

  • Lower risk of early death
  • Lower risk of coronary heart disease
  • Lower risk of stroke
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Lower risk of colon cancer
  • Lower risk of breast cancer
  • Prevention of weight gain
  • Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Prevention of falls
  • Reduced depression
  • Better cognitive function (for older adults)

Moderate to strong evidence

  • Better functional health (for older adults)
  • Reduced abdominal obesity

Moderate evidence

  • Lower risk of hip fracture
  • Lower risk of lung cancer
  • Lower risk of endometrial cancer
  • Weight maintenance after weight loss
  • Increased bone density
  • Improved sleep quality

Many conditions affected by physical activity occur with increasing age, such as heart disease and cancer. Reducing risk of these conditions may require years of participation in regular physical activity. However, other benefits, such as increased cardiorespiratory fitness, increased muscular strength, and decreased symptoms of depression and blood pressure, require only a few weeks or months of participation in physical activity. The health benefits of physical activity are generally independent of body weight. Adults of all sizes and shapes gain health and fitness benefits by being habitually physically active. The benefits of physical activity also outweigh the risk of injury and sudden heart attacks, two concerns that prevent many people from becoming physically active.

 

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