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National Physical Fitness and Sports Awareness Month


Physical activity helps the body regulate blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure, reducing the chances of developing diabetes or heart disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that physical activity also maintains healthy muscles, bones and joints, and can slow the deteriorating effects of aging.

Further, exercise improves a person's overall mood by prompting the release of hormones that reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, the CDC says. Some research has even found that exercise helps keep the mind sharp, improving memory and potentially helping to ward off dementia in old age.

Despite all this good news about exercise, a 2008 CDC survey revealed that more than a quarter of American adults did not spend any free time doing physical activities such as running, gardening, golfing or walking.

In a more recent survey, just 5 percent of American adults reported engaging in vigorous physical activity, such as running or using cardiovascular exercise equipment, in the previous 24 hours, according to a study published in October in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The CDC has set guidelines for the amount of exercise that people at various stages of their lives need to remain healthy:

  • Kids 6 to 17 years old should get about an hour of physical activity every day.
  • Adults 18 on up should partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, every week. In addition, at least two days a week they should do muscle-strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups.
To fit exercise into daily life it is suggested:
  • Taking a step back and understanding that fitness is as important a priority as other leisure activities, such as television or reading.
  • Realizing that exercise can be broken into blocks of 10 to 15 minutes that can be fit in throughout the day.
  • Recruiting an exercise buddy who will help maintain motivation.

Resources: Healthwise and Health Day

 

Feature Stories

Get up and get moving proves tough for many

Fitness club gives nudges some need to get and stay active

How to get moderate exercise

Related Resources

Department of Health and Human Services

Presidents Council on Physical Fitness and Sports

National Association for Health & Fitness

 

 

 

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