Physical Activity


Why should I be physically active?

Physical activity can help improve overall health and fitness while preventing many adverse health outcomes. The benefits of physical activity extend to health individuals, those at risk of developing a chronic disease, and those suffering from chronic conditions or disabilities. The long-term effects of physical activity on many health conditions vary by the condition, amounts and types of activity. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new physical activity.

Physical activity may reduce the risk of any or all of the following:

– Premature death
– Diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression
– Risk factors for disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
– Mental health disorders, such as depression and cognitive function disorders
– Injuries or sudden heart attacks

Health benefits associated with regular physical activity include:

Children and Adolescents

o Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
o Improved bone health
o Improved cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers
o Favorable body composition
o Reduced symptoms of depression

Adults and Older Adults

o Lower risk of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and adverse blood lipid profiles
o Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
o Lower risk of metabolic syndrome
o Lower risk of colon cancer
o Lower risk of breast cancer
o Prevent of weight gain
o Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
o Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
o Prevention of falls
o Reduced depression
o Better cognitive function
o Reduced abdominal obesity


How much physical activity do I need?

The US Department of Health and Human Services has basic recommendations as follows:

Children and Adolescents 60 minutes or more daily

– Mostly moderate intensity activity
– At least 3 days of vigorous activity weekly
– At least 3 days of muscle strengthening activity weekly

Adults Avoid inactivity!

– At least 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly OR
– 75 minutes of vigorous activity
– Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes and preferably, spread throughout the week
– At least 2 days of muscle strengthening activity weekly
For more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic activity to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous activity.
Older Adults When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week due to chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. They should continue exercises that maintain or improve balance to reduce risk of falls.
Pregnant Women – Healthy women who are NOT already highly active or doing vigorous-intensity activity should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
– Pregnant women who habitually engage in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or who are high active can continue physical activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period, provided they remain healthy and discuss their health care provider how activity should be adjusted throughout the pregnancy.

What is the difference between exercise and physical activity?

Exercise is a form of physical activity that is planned structured, repetitive, and performed with the goal of improving health or fitness. So, although all exercise is physical activity, not all physical activity is exercise.


Developed By Kim Andreola MS, RD

Information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.

Recommendations for Quantity and Quality of Exercise. (2011) American College of Sports Medicine.  Retrieved June 10, 2014.  From

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