Physical Activity for Health

March 26, 2019

Physical Activity for Health


Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard that increasing your physical activity is linked to several health benefits.  Many of us tend to roll our eyes at the doctor’s office when confronted with the recommendations to get off the couch and start moving more.  It may not be 100% your fault on how you view physical activity with the way our society is today. 

How do you feel when you think about creating an exercise routine?  Do you feel pressured?  Well there is good news, because in order to gain the health benefits from physical activity you do not have to be in the gym 1-2 hrs per day or take 5 am cross fit classes.  In this article, I am going to explain to you the difference between physical activity and exercise, the benefits of physical activity, how to make physical activity a part of your life, and some ideas to get you started.

What is physical activity?

-Physical activity can be described as movement that enhances your health.  Some examples of this include swimming, walking, yoga, climbing stairs, and even gardening.  The four main types of physical activity include aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening, bone-strengthening, and stretching.

-Exercise is a form of physical activity that is planned and has structure.  This is why in many instances exercise can seem overwhelming.  If you love sports, spin classes, and cross fit more power to you, but these activities may not be realistic for everyone.

What are the benefits of physical activity?

  • Decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, stroke, etc.   
  • Improve your mood.
  • Improve your energy levels.
  • Lead to a better night’s sleep.
  • May result in weight management.
  • Improve your memory.
  • Increased sex drive.

How much physical activity should I get?

The current recommendations for aerobic activity for adults are 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.  This can be done in a minimum of 10-minute spurts.  Although I think it’s important to mention this is a general guideline.  If you struggle with your relationship to exercise you may want to cut back and evaluate the reasons behind why you exercise.  As always please make sure you check with your doctor to make sure it is okay that you engage in physical activity.

How Can I Increase My Physical Activity?

Trust me, I get it.  When it comes to comparing physical activity to your favorite reality tv show, that tv show is most likely always going to win.  I try to think of the long term.  How will my current decisions affect my overall quality of life in the next few days, weeks, and years to come.

Physical activity does not have to feel like a chore.  If it does then I recommend exploring this.  What are your reasons for wanting to exercise?  It might also help to focus on how exercise makes you feel.  I never recommend solely focusing on exercise as a means of weight loss or body manipulation.  

To get started I recommend setting a goal.  If you are just starting out a simple goal might sound something like “I will engage in physical activity for 20 minutes per day for three days per week”.  To ensure that you stick with your goal engage in an activity you ENJOY doing!

Ideas for Physical Activity:

  • After dinner walk with your family, pet, friend, or spouse.
  • Search for new local trails to hike on the weekends
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Dance to your favorite songs or follow along a dance youtube tutorial
  • Ride a bike
  • Gardening
  • Youtube!  There are tons of different videos you can follow along for free including yoga, pilates, HIIT, etc.
  • Explore the city you live in on foot
  • Jump rope
  • Play with your kids
  • Swimming (tread water, swim laps, play Marco Polo)
  • Kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding
  • If you like classes try a new workout class.
  • Do some housework (vacuuming, mopping, mowing the lawn)
  • Go walking with your favorite coworkers on lunch breaks
  • Walk around the house while you talk on the phone.  (I literally pace around my house every time I take a phone call)

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