Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
Bad habits are hard to break. Good habits can be too. Regular (daily or at least most days of the week) physical activity is one habit that should be unbreakable if you want to maintain or improve your health.
SHORT TERM BENEFITS
Short term benefits from regular physical activity:
A healthier heart
Healthy muscles, bones, and joints
Improved burning of calories
Better ability to cope with stress
A sense of well-being
Improved ability to fall asleep and sleep well
LONG TERM BENEFITS
Reduced risk of:
Dying from heart disease
Developing high blood pressure
Developing colon cancer
Experiencing a stroke
Choose a variety of activities that you enjoy doing regularly and engage in these at moderate intensity for at least 30 to 60 minutes at least 5 days per week. It is not necessary to exercise all in one session. Several 10-15 minute sessions can be just as effective.
One way to determine how strenuously you are exercising is to see if you can talk while you are exercising. If you can talk easily, you are working at a light to moderate rate -- you may want to increase the rate of exercise in order to make it more strenuous. If you become out of breath quickly, you are probably working too hard.
LENGTH OF EXERCISE SESSION AND INTENSITY
Exercise that raises your heart rate is ideal, but exercise does not necessarily need to be strenuous to be beneficial; many activities of daily living such as climbing stairs or walking from the train to your office can provide benefits. If you choose a less vigorous activity, you should spend more time doing that activity. For example, you need a longer session of brisk walking (30 minutes or longer) to experience some of the similar benefits of a shorter session of a more strenuous exercise like jogging (15 to 20 minutes). Build up to a longer session or more strenuous exercise gradually.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
American Heart Association 800/AHA-USA1 or www.americanheart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). NHLBI Information Center 301/592-8573 or www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Brian Pace, MA, Writer
Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
Reproduced with permission from JAMA Patient Page, June 14, 2000 (not copyrighted).
Brian Pace, MA