Fitness At Any Age

09/ 06/ 2016

Energize Your Life! Who said physical activity is all work and no play? In fact, it can be just the opposite! There is no need to think of strenuous workouts that are painful and boring. Instead, imagine doing fun physical activities you enjoy and look forward to. Do physical activity for enjoyment and watch the health benefits follow!



The Importance of Physical Activity

The evidence is growing and is more convincing than ever! People of all ages who are generally inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming active at a moderate-intensity on a regular basis.



Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death, and decreases the risk for strokecolon cancerdiabetes, and high blood pressure. It also helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; reduces falls among older adults; helps to relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications. Moreover, physical activity need not be strenuous to be beneficial; people of all ages benefit from participating in regular, moderate-intensity physical activity, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking five or more times a week.


Despite the proven benefits of physical activity, more than 50% of American adults do not get enough physical activity to provide health benefits. 25% of adults are not active at all in their leisure time. Activity decreases with age and is less common among women than men and among those with lower income and less education.


Insufficient physical activity is not limited to adults. More than a third of young people in grades 9-12 do not regularly engage in vigorous-intensity physical activity.

This section explains why you should be active, how inactivity may hurt your health, and how physical activity can benefit everyone.


Why should I be active?

Physical activity can bring you many health benefits. People who enjoy participating in moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity physical activity on a regular basis benefit by lowering their risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitushigh blood pressure, and colon cancer by 30-50% (USDHHS, 1996). Additionally, active people have lower premature death rates than people who are the least active.


• Regular physical activity can improve health and reduce the risk of premature death in the following ways:

  • • Reduces the risk of developing coronaryheart disease (CHD) and the risk of dying from CHD
  • • Reduces the risk ofstroke
  • • Reduces the risk of having a second heart attackin people who have already had one heart attack
  • • Lowers both total blood cholesteroland triglycerides and increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL or the “good” cholesterol)
  • • Lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure
  • • Helps reduce blood pressurein people who already have hypertension
  • • Lowers the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetesmellitus
  • • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer
  • • Helps people achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • • Reduces feelings of depressionand anxiety
  • • Promotes psychological well-being and reduces feelings of stress
  • • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  • • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling or becoming excessively fatigued


Can everyone benefit from physical activity?

“Do it, move it, make it happen. No one ever sat their way to success.” -Unknown


The good news about regular physical activity is that everyone can benefit from it (USDHHS, 1996).

Older adults: No one is too old to enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity. Evidence indicates that muscle-strengthening exercises can reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones and can improve the ability to live independently.


  • • Parents and children: Parents can help their children maintain a physically active lifestyle by providing encouragement and opportunities for physical activity. Families can plan outings and events that allow and encourage everyone in the family to be active.
  • • Teenagers: Regular physical activity improves strength, builds lean muscle, and decreases body fat. Activity can build stronger bones to last a lifetime.
  • • People trying to manage their weight: Regular physical activityburns calories while preserving lean muscle mass. Regular physical activity is a key component of any weight-loss or weight-management effort.
  • • People with high blood pressure: Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure.
  • People with physical disabilities, including arthritis: Regular physical activity can help people with chronic, disabling conditions improve their stamina and muscle strength. It also can improve psychological well-being and quality of life by increasing the ability to perform the activities of daily life.
  • • Everyone under stress, including persons experiencing anxiety or depression: Regular physical activity improves one’s mood, helps relievedepression, and increases feelings of well-being.



How active do adults need to be to gain some benefit?

Physical activity does not need to be hard to provide some benefit. Participating in moderate-intensity physical activity is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages and abilities. There is no demographic or social group in America that could not benefit from becoming more active.


The table below provides recommendations on how to increase your physical activity based on your current activity level. Check it out to see where you are and how you can challenge yourself.


If…. Then…
You do not currently engage in regular
physical activity,
You should begin by incorporating a few minutes of physical activity into each day, gradually building up to 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activities.
You are now active, but at less than
the recommended levels,
You should strive to adopt more consistent activity:

moderate-intensity physical activity for 30 minutes or more on 5 or more days of the week, or

vigorous-intensity physical activity for 20 minutes or more on 3 or more days of the week.

You currently engage in moderate-intensity activities
for atleast 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week,
You may achieve even greater health benefits by increasing the time spent or intensity of those activities.




You currently regularly engage in vigorous-intensity activities

20 minutes or more on 3 or more days of the week,

You should continue to do so

*Scientific evidence to date supports the statements above.


What is “moderate-intensity physical activity?”

Moderate-intensity physical activity refers to any activity that burns 3.5 to 7 Calories per minute (kcal/min) (Ainsworth et al., 2000). These levels are equal to the effort a healthy individual might burn while walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming for recreation, or bicycling.


Number of Minutes of Activity Required to Burn 150 kcalories





Tips for Parents

As a parent, you have an important role in shaping your children’s physical activity attitudes and behaviors. Here are some tips to encourage your children to be more physically active.


  • • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself, and make physical activity part of your family’s daily routine such as designating time for family walks or playing active games together.
  • • Provide opportunities for children to be active by playing with them. Give them active toys and equipment, and take them to places where they can be active.
  • • Offer positive reinforcement for the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them as they express interest in new activities.
  • • Make physical activity fun.Fun activities can be anything the child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. They may range from team sports, individual sports, and/or recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities, and free-time play.
  • • Ensure that the activity is age appropriate and, to ensure safety, provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads, and knee pads.
  • • Find a convenient place to be active regularly.
  • • Limit the time your children watch television or play video games to no more than two hours per day. Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity (walking, playing chase, dancing).


When is a medical evaluation necessary?

Experts advise that people with chronic diseases, such as a heart condition, arthritis, diabetes, or high blood pressure, should talk to their doctor about what types and amounts of physical activity are appropriate. If you have a chronic disease and have not already done so, talk to your doctor before beginning a new physical activity program.


If you have symptoms that could be due to a chronic disease, you should have these symptoms evaluated, whether you are active or inactive. If you plan to start a new activity program, take the opportunity to get these symptoms evaluated. Symptoms of particular importance to evaluate include chest pain (especially chest pain that is brought on by exertion), loss of balance (especially loss of balance leading to a fall), dizziness, and passing out (loss of consciousness).




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