"The good news...is that people can benefit from even moderate levels of physical activity."
Surgeon General of the United States.
Years ago staying active was not an issue. But today, in our world of technology and new conveniences, most of the physical activity has been taken out of our lives. Most Americans (about 60%) no longer break a sweat on a daily basis. This lack of physical activity is having a profoundly negative effect on the health of children and adults.
Scientists recently looked at the underlying causes of all of the deaths in the United States in 2002 (excluding genetic causes). They found that a combination of lack of exercise and poor dietary habits was the second largest underlying cause of death, with smoking being the largest. Regular physical activity could prevent disease or improve the health of Americans who suffer from the following illnesses:
The best reason to routinely include physical activity in your everyday life is that you genuinely want to improve your health and fitness. Most Americans are surprised at the amount of evidence that links regular physical activity to health improvement. Regular physical activity improves health in the following ways:
Low physical fitness = a shorter life span
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines physical fitness as the ability of your heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles to carry out daily tasks and occasional, unplanned bodily challenges with a minimum of fatigue and discomfort. In other words - having the energy to do all you want to do! Physical fitness requires a lifetime commitment.
The difference between physical activity and exercise is that physical activity is any voluntary body movement that burns calories. Exercise is physical activity that follows a planned format. The movements are repeated, with a goal of improving or maintaining one or more specific areas of physical fitness.
There are four components to physical fitness:
"Every U.S. adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week."
This is the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine.
Research has shown that everyday physical activities can accomplish some of the same goals as exercise with less of the negativity sometimes associated with exercise. Best of all, you don't have to do all your physical activity at one time - ten minutes here - five minutes there. A little bit of activity throughout the day is just as beneficial as thirty minutes at one time. Remember, the goal is to accumulate thirty minutes or more of moderate activity each day. Try these suggestions:
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that you are more likely to stick with doing your physical activity if you:
|Examples of Endurance Activities|
|Walking briskly (2 miles in 30 minutes)||Climbing stairs or hills|
|Bicycling||Brisk bicycling up hills|
|Mopping or scrubbing floors||Hiking|
|Golf, without cart||Jogging|
|Tennis (doubles)||Tennis (singles)|
|Gardening for 30-45 minutes|
|Wheeling self in wheelchair 30-40 minutes|
|Jumping rope for 15 minutes|
|Pushing stroller 1.5 miles in 30 minutes|
American College of Sports Medicine. 1998. Fitness Book. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL
American Heart Association. 1997. Fitting In Fitness. Times Books - Random House, Inc., New York.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion. 2003. "Physical Activity." http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/index.htm
National Institute on Aging/National Institute of Health. 1998. Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging. Bethesda, MD. http://www.nih.gov/nia.
National Institutes of Health. 1999. " Obesity Education Initiative." http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1996. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, GA.
|Endurance Activity||What I normally would have done||What I did to increase my activity level|
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
May 1, 2009