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How is physical activity related to health?

Physical inactivity is one of the greatest health threats facing our country today – the only risk factor for chronic disease affecting 95% of adults.  Substantial scientific and clinical evidence suggests that physical activity can protect against the development of chronic disease.  According to the recent Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2008) it is recommended for adults to achieve 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily, and those under the age of 18 require 60 minutes of daily activity.

Regular physical activity promotes cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, normal bodyweight and lowered percentage of body fat (thus directly lowering BMI).  Additionally, lower risks of chronic disease (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol) are also reported.  Several studies have also linked greater cognitive brain function (in adults) and better academic performance (in children) when achieving the minimum physical activity requirements daily.

Researchers have established that regular physical activity can improve health by:
Helping to control weight, Maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints,  Reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, Promoting psychological well-being,  Reducing the risk of death from heart disease and Reducing the risk of premature death.
In addition to these health benefits, researchers are learning that physical activity can also affect the risk of cancer. There is convincing evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the colon and breast. Several studies also have reported links between physical activity and a reduced risk of cancers of the prostate, lung, and lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer). Despite these health benefits, recent studies have shown that more than 50 percent of Americans do not engage in enough regular physical activity.
This answer is based on source information from National Cancer Institute.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.