Editor
Editor

Editor's Blog

Take a Break! The Long Term Benefits of Physical Activity


female-jogger-tying-her-shoe

Physical Activity: Benefits and Facts to Motivate and Encourage

We’re taking a break from our Retirement Facts Series and reminding you to take a break from your desk. We want to bring some attention to physical activity – why it’s important, what you can do, and how to get the whole family involved.

If you struggle with getting enough physical activity, you’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected data on physical inactivity in the United States and created the following:

Map

If you noticed, most of the states are overwhelmingly inactive. This doesn’t have to be true for you individually.

How Do We Figure Out the Right Amount of Activity?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion published the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition in 2018.

The guidelines recommend that adults should aim for the following amounts of activity a week:

  • At least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity activity, OR
  • 75 minutes (1 hr 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, OR
  • A combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

25 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every day would get you into the recommended range.

 

Sun

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Total Minutes

25

25

25

25

25 25 25 175 minutes (~3 hours)  

30

30

30 30 30 30 30 210 minutes (3 1/2 hours)

 

Note: If you’re already getting the recommended amount of activity, try to do a little bit more! Adults doing more than the 5 hours/week moderate-intensity activity can feel additional health benefits.

Why Does it Matter so Much?

Trying to fit in activity with a full workday can be daunting, but the long-term health benefits make the time worth it.

Adult Health Benefits from the Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Decreased risk of developing chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer)
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Improved sleep and overall quality of life
  • Temporary cognitive function and state anxiety improvements (from just a single episode of physical activity
  • Improvement in completing everyday tasks without undue fatigue
  • Improved cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness (healthier body weight and composition)

It’s okay if you’re not used to exercising or getting a lot of physical activity. You can start small and add in 10 minutes of activity a day, or if your goal is a total 30 minutes a day, break it up and do 10 minutes 3 times a day.

What Kind of Exercise are We Talking about Exactly?

You have a lot of options when it comes to the kind of physical activities you can do. These are just examples from the Guidelines, not a final list.

Moderate-Intensity Activities

Vigorous-Intensity Activities

Walking briskly

Recreational swimming

Bike riding

Tennis

Power yoga

Ballroom or line dancing

General yard work and home repair

Exercise classes

 

Jogging or running

Swimming laps

Bicycling faster than 10mph

Tennis

Dancing

Heavy yard work

Exercise classes like step
aerobics or kickboxing

Hiking uphill

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

You can try out different activities and find the one you most enjoy.

Get the Whole Family Involved

Go for a walk down up and down your street or try out a local park.

Not sure where the nearest park is? You can use sites dedicated to connecting people to parks like Map of Play to find a park that works for you.

Have a gym membership but worry about what the kids will do?

Some gyms have children care centers during daylight hours where your kids can get supervised play time while you work out. Look into what your gym offers or consider switching.

The following activities from the Physical Activity Guidelines are examples of how kids can get and stay active.

Type of Physical Activity

Preschool-Aged Children

School-Aged Children

Adolescents

Moderate-intensity aerobic

Games such as tag or follow the leader

Brisk walking

Brisk walking

Playing on a playground

Bike riding

Bike riding

Tricycle or bicycle riding

Active recreation, such as hiking, riding a scooter, swimming

Active recreation, such as kayaking, hiking, swimming

Walking, running, skipping, jumping, dancing

Playing games that require catching and throwing (like baseball/softball)

Playing games that require catching and throwing (like baseball/softball)

Swimming

 

House and yard work

Playing games that require catching, throwing, and kicking

 

Video games that require continuous movement

Gymnastics or tumbling

 

 

Vigorous-intensity aerobic

Games such as tag or follow the leader

Running

Running

Playing on a playground

Bike riding

Bike riding

Tricycle or bicycle riding

Active games involving running and chasing, like tag/flag football

Active games involving running and chasing, like tag/flag football

Walking, running, skipping, jumping, dancing

Jumping rope

Jumping rope

Swimming

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing

Playing games that require catching, throwing, and kicking

Sports (soccer, basketball, swimming tennis)

Sports (soccer, basketball, swimming tennis)

Gymnastics or tumbling

Martial arts

Martial arts

 

Dancing

Dancing

Muscle strengthening

Games such as tug of war

Games such as tug of war

Games such as tug of war

Climbing on playground equipment

Resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands

Resistance exercises using body weight, resistance bands, weight machines, hand-held weights

Gymnastics

Rope or tree climbing

Some forms of yoga

 

Climbing on playground equipment

 

 

Some forms of yoga

 

Bone Strengthening

Hopping, skipping, jumping

Hopping, skipping, jumping

Jumping rope

Jumping rope

Jumping rope

Running

Running

Running

Sports that involve jumping or rapid change in direction

Gymnastics

Sports that involve jumping or rapid change in direction

 

 

 

Try out activities you and your kids can enjoy together, letting everyone get their physical activity for the day. Kids need physical activity as much as Adults and Older Adults. The benefits for kids are in line with the benefits for adults, but getting them involved with physical activities early sets them up to live healthier lives as adults.

Children and Adolescent Health Benefits from the Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Decreased risk of developing chronic diseases as adults (heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Improved cardiorespiratory fitness, stronger muscles, and stronger bones
  • Improvements in:
    • attention
    • cognitive functions of memory
    • executive function
    • processing speed
    • academic performance

 

If you have older relatives living with you, they can still find ways to join in on the family physical activity.

While walking is one of the easiest, low-risk ways for older adults to get in some physical activity, the Guidelines have a few more examples:

Moderate-Intensity Activities

Muscle Strengthening Activities

Walking or hiking

Dancing

Swimming

Water aerobics

Jogging/running

Some forms of yoga

Bike riding (stationary or outdoors

Some yard work (raking/mowing with a push mower

Sports (tennis/basketball)

Golf

Strengthening exercises using exercise bands, weight machines, or hand-held weights

Body-weight exercises

Gardening (digging, lifting, and carrying)

Some yoga postures

Some forms of tai chi

 

Most of the health benefits for Adults and Older Adults are the same, but there are some specific to Older Adults. It's never too late to get into the habit of completing some type of physical activity in a day.

Older Adult Health Benefits from the Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Easier to perform daily living activities:
    • eating
    • bathing
    • toileting
    • dressing
    • getting into or out of bed
    • moving around the house/neighborhood
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Less likely to fall and also less likely to be seriously injured in the event of a fall
  • Improved physical function
  • Helps prevent/manage chronic illness

The Guidelines have some information on “Being Active in the Presence of Health Challenges” as an older adult on page 76. Even in the face of physical challenges, we can still find ways to be active.

Today's Takeaways

The workday isn’t always flexible or forgiving with time, but small changes add up to big differences.

Take the time to build in some physical activity to your day and make it fun for the family. The activity itself may not last long, but the health benefits are long term.

And of course, always consult with your doctor on what physical activities work best for you, especially when it comes to each activity's length and intensity.

 


Read the Physical Activity Guidelines in their entirety.

Read more about the Adult Physical Activity Map.

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is “a system of health-system related telephone surveys that collect state data” that completes more than 400,000 adult interviews each year. Read more about BRFSS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.



Comments are closed.
 
LATEST BLOG