Being physically active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Individuals who participate in moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity can reduce their risk for disease and premature death (USDHHS, 1996). Physical activity has been shown to have the following health benefits:.
Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
Reduces the risk of heart disease.
Reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Reduces blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
Reduces the risk of developing colon and breast cancer.
Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
Helps prevent excess weight gain and maintenance of weight loss.
Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
Helps older adults maintain strength and the ability to move about without falling.
Promotes psychological well-being.
Low Levels of Physical Activity in the United States.
The benefits of physical activity have been clearly established; however, only a small percentage of individuals are sufficiently active in the United States.
Can a lack of physical activity hurt your health? By examining the benefits of physical activity listed above, you can clearly see that a sedentary lifestyle will not increase your health status. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to higher rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, which are some of the leading causes of death in the United States.
So given the above, why is physical activity declining? In the U.S. today, modern conveniences such as computers, TVs, elevators, automobiles, air conditioners, cell phones, fast food restaurants, and household appliances have reduced our need and desire to move and maneuver in our environment. Although these conveniences have enhanced our lives in some ways, they have put a drain on our natural resources and generated a serious health problem for our society.
No matter how many conveniences are created to reduce our daily workloads, we must move and stay active in order to live and maintain a quality lifestyle.