The Importance and Benefits of Physical Activity

It is now firmly established that individuals who engage in some form of physical activity,either by lifestyle or occupation,are likely to live longer and healthier lives.Research shows that even moderate caloric expenditure from physical activity has a significant impact on longevity.Importantly,a physically active person who possesses other risk factors like hypertension,diabetes and even a smoking habit can derive significant gains from incorporating regular physical activity into his/her daily activities.

Regular physical activity is also likely to help modify a number of risk factors.As an adjunct to weight loss, exercise is likely to help you stay on a diet and lose weight.Additionally, regular exercise is associated with reductions in blood pressure, improved glucose regulation, promotion of better lipid profiles and stronger/denser bones.

A Complete Physical Activity Program

There are three principle components to a rounded program of physical activity: (1) aerobic exercise, (2) strength training exercise and (3)flexibility training.

It is not essential that all three components be performed during the same workout session. Try to create a pattern that fits into your schedule and one to which you can adhere. Commitment to a regular physical activity program is more important than intensity of the workouts. Therefore,choose exercises you believe you are likely to pursue and enjoy.

The American College of Sport Medicine's Position Stand "The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Healthy Adults" ©1998 states that aerobic training should be performed three to five days per week with a minimum of 20 minutes per day.

Remember that if your schedule is tight, it is better to exercise for a shorter period of time than not al all. Typical forms of aerobic exercise are walking and running (treadmills), stair climbing, bicycling (bicycle ergometers), rowing, cross-country skiing and swimming. Many devices contain combinations of these motions.

For general purposes, strength training should be done two to three times per week. Strength training is performed with free weights or weight machines. For the purposes of general training, two to three upper body and lower body exercises should be done. Additionally, abdominal exercises are an important part of strength training.

Flexibility training is important and frequently neglected, resulting in increased tightness as we age and become less active. Stretching is most safely done with sustained gradual movements lasting a minimum of 15 seconds per stretch. Strive to stretch every day.