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Benefits of Physical Activity?

by Haddenham Webteam – 6th April 2014
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Sunday 6th April was "World Day of Physical Activity" – did it pass you by?!
The World Health Organisation lists the following 10 Facts:

1. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality
Globally, 6% of deaths are attributed to physical inactivity. This follows high blood pressure (13%), tobacco use (9%) and is equal to high blood glucose (6%). Moreover, physical inactivity is the main cause for approximately 21-25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden.

2. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body
Physically active persons:

  • improve their muscular and cardio-respiratory fitness
  • improve their bone and functional health
  • have lower rates of: coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression
  • have a lower risk of falling and of hip or vertebral fractures
  • are more likely to maintain their weight

3. Physical activity should not be mistaken for sport
Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by the skeletal muscles that uses energy. This includes sports, exercise and other activities such as playing, walking, doing household chores, gardening, and dancing.

4. Both moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity bring health benefits
Both moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity bring health benefits
Intensity refers to the rate at which the activity is being performed. It can be thought of as "how hard a person works to do the activity". The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies between people. Depending on an individual's relative level of fitness, examples of moderate physical activity could include: brisk walking, dancing or household chores. Examples of vigorous physical activity could be: running, fast cycling, fast swimming or moving heavy loads.

5. Five-to-Seventeen year olds
People aged 5-17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.

6. Eighteen-to-Sixty-Four year olds
Adults aged 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity. In order to be beneficial for cardio-respiratory health, all activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.

7. Adults aged Sixty-Five and above
The main recommendations for adults and older adults are the same. In addition, older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls 3 or more days per week. When older adults cannot do the recommended amount of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

8. These recommendations are relevant to all healthy adults
Unless specific medical conditions indicate the contrary, these recommendations apply to all people, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity or income level. They also apply to individuals with chronic noncommunicable conditions, not related to mobility, such as hypertension or diabetes. These recommendations can be valid for adults with disabilities as well.

9. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none
Inactive people should start with small amounts of physical activity and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time. Inactive adults, older adults and those with disease limitations will have added health benefits when they become more active. Pregnant, postpartum women and persons with cardiac events may need to take extra precautions and seek medical advice before striving to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.

10. Supportive environments and communities may help people to be more physically active
Urban and environmental policies can have huge potential to increase the physical activity levels in the population. Examples of these policies include ensuring that:

  • walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation are accessible and safe for all
  • labour and workplace policies encourage physical activity
  • schools have safe spaces and facilities for students to spend their free time actively
  • sports and recreation facilities provide opportunities for everyone to be physically active
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