According to a recent study released by the American Medical Association, being physically active is one of the most important actions individuals of all ages can engage in to improve their health. In the United States, an estimated $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10% of premature mortality are associated with inadequate physical activity.
Physical activity has countless benefits; some benefits starting after a single bout of exercise; however, there are more long-term benefits such as reduced risk of a chronic disease or improvement of an existing condition. Starting slowly and gradually increasing the amount of time or intensity of physical activity is a good way to build up to those benefits for adults.
“Being a healthy adult is directly tied to being physically active and eating nutritiously,” says William Grow, MD, FACP, district health director. “Those who are physically active are bound to feel better overall and are less likely to develop conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
According to the study, adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
“Adults that exercise even more than the recommended amount of time will see additional health benefits,” stated Grow. “Some of those benefits are carrying out daily tasks that involve climbing stairs and carrying heavy items without undue stress, as well as improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and cancer prevention.”
Regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, such as running, brisk walking or bicycling, may also reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and improve sleep and quality of life. Each adult’s intensity level may be different in the beginning depending on how much effort it takes to do an activity.
Other examples of physical activity that adults may enjoy are swimming, vigorous dancing, hiking, exercise classes, tennis, yoga, and yard work. For more information The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans study from the American Medical Association, visit www.jama.com or cdc.gov/physicalactivity.