Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Physical activity can add years to your life, and life to your years.

The Importance of Physical Activity
Regular physical activity can improve health and reduce the risk of premature death in the following ways:

1.Reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) and the risk of dying from CHD
2.Reduces the risk of stroke
3.Reduces the risk of having a second heart attack in people who have already had one heart attack
4.Lowers both total blood cholesterol and triglycerides and increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL or the "good" cholesterol)
5.Lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure
6.Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have hypertension
7.Lowers the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitus
8.Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer
9.Helps people achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
10.Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
11.Promotes psychological well-being and reduces feelings of stress
12.Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
13.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.

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 activity burns 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 relieve depression, and increases feelings of well-being.

Measuring Physical Activity Intensity
Talk Test
Physical activity can add years to your life, and life to your years.

The talk test method of measuring intensity is simple. A person who is active at a light intensity level should be able to sing while doing the activity. One who is active at a moderate intensity level should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably while engaging in the activity. If a person becomes winded or too out of breath to carry on a conversation, the activity can be considered vigorous.