Benefits of Physical Activity – By Bahar Mahmoudi

Benefits of physical activity

Physical activity plays an important role in the health, well-being and quality of life. People who are physically active live longer, healthier lives. Active people are more productive, and more likely to avoid illness and injury.

  • Children (5-11 Years) and youth (12-17 Years)

Physical activity is essential for healthy growth and development. Regular physical activity in childhood develops cardiovascular fitness, strength and bone density.

  • Adults (18-64)

Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of over 25 chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer, colon cancer, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

  • Older adults (65 Years and older)

Weight-bearing physical activity reduces the rate of bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Regular physical activity maintains strength and flexibility, balance and coordination, and can help reduce the risk of falls.

In short, physical activity helps prolong good health and independence.


Adding physical activity to your day

Take a step in the right direction by adding physical activity to your daily lifestyle. Start by slowly increasing your physical activity to meet the new physical activity recommendations.

Physical activity doesn’t mean only sports – it can include everyday things like walking the dog, planting a garden, playing tag, building a snowman, tobogganing, and even household chores like raking the leaves, or sweeping the garage.


How much physical activity do I need?

If you are a healthy adult, it is recommended that you do these activities on a regular basis:

  • Aerobic activities, like walking fast, jogging, or dancing. Aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. To get more benefits, lose weight, or keep off weight you have lost, you may need more. Aim for 60 to 90 minutes per day. Try to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time without any breaks.
  • Strengthening activities, or activities that make you push or pull against something (for example, lifting weights, doing sit-ups, using exercise bands). Aim for at least 2 days a week.

If you have a health problem like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, ask your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. In most cases, you do not need to talk to your provider before starting an activity like walking.

Recent studies suggest that sitting down for long periods of time may lead to health problems, like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This was found even among people who are active at other times of the day. If you must spend a lot of time sitting down, take breaks to stand up and move around every 30 minutes, if possible.

How can I start to be active?

Pick an activity you enjoy!

If you do not like the exercise you are doing, it is hard to keep it up. List the activities you would like to do, like walking, joining a sports league, exercising with a video, dancing, biking, or taking a class at a fitness or community center. If you are already active, what types of activity can you add? Select an activity that sounds like fun and try it out.

Bahar Mahmoudi is an International Pharmacy Graduate, Natural Health Practitioner and Weight Loss Coach