Physical Activity

health7Physical activity helps improve overall health and fitness, and reduces the risk of the five major chronic diseases: heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. There is firm evidence that moderate to high fitness levels provide a substantially reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and deaths from all-causes.  Fitness is, in turn, influenced strongly by physical activity in addition to genetic factors. These relationships emphasize the role of physical activity in the prevention of overweight and obesity.

There is convincing evidence that regular physical activity is protective against unhealthy weight gain whereas sedentary lifestyles, particularly sedentary occupations and inactive recreation such as watching television, promote it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) quotes that physical activity can have a positive impact on the following health outcomes:

  •     – cardiorespiratory health (coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension)
  •     – metabolic health (diabetes and obesity)
  •     – musculoskeletal health (bone health, osteoporosis)
  •      – cancer (breast and colon cancer)
  •     – functional health and prevention of falls
  •        -mental health.

Also, adequate levels of physical activity will decrease the risk of a hip or vertebral fracture. Physical activity is key to body energy expenditure, and thus is fundamental to energy balance and weight control.

Regular moderate intensity physical activity – such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports – may seem difficult at first, but a slow and gradual start of some activities or exercises can help anyone and of any age reach their exercise goals if different types and amounts of activities are introduced each week.

According to WHO, physical activity recommendations are set out for three age groups: 7-17 years, 18-64 years and 65 years and above. For more information visit: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_recommendations/en/

At all ages, the benefits of being physically active outweigh potential harm, for example through accidents. Some physical activity is better than doing none. By becoming more active throughout the day in relatively simple ways, people can quite easily achieve the recommended activity levels. Regular physical activity:

  •       – improves muscular and cardio respiratory fitness
  •       – improves bone and functional health
  •       – reduces the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer
  •       – improves mental health
  •       – reduces the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures
  •       – is fundamental to energy balance and weight control.