How can physical activity improve my health?

Lori Maggioni
Nutrition & Dietetics

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health and well-being. Both proper nutrition and physical activity work together to help you achieve this. Being overweight puts you at a higher risk for developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Being physically active prevents weight gain and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. However, if that does not get you motivated - think about this: regular exercise can help you sleep better at night and may even reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

It is important to incorporate both aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises into your workout routine. Aerobic activities include running, hiking, bicycling, playing tennis, dancing, walking, and swimming. Overtime, these forms of exercise strengthen your cardiovascular system.

Muscle strengthening activities increase bone strength and muscular fitness. You can achieve this by weight lifting, using resistance bands, doing push-ups or sit-ups, and even yoga. Vacuuming and heavy gardening, such as digging or hoeing, counts as muscle strengthening activities too!  Try to work on activities that strengthen your muscles at least two days per week; that means working your legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms.

The main goal is to get your body moving and incorporate more physical activity into your daily life for increased health. The research shows that engaging in regular exercise can have a significant impact on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Remember that exercise should be fun - not boring - so get moving!

Physical activity has countless benefits:

  • Improved well being
  • Strong immune system
  • More alert and energized
  • Improve self-confidence
  • Strong body, heart and cardio respiratory system
  • Longer life expectancy

Being active is the best feeling in the world so enjoy all that you can!

Beth Oliver

There are so many ways!

Focus, concentration and coordination improves
Reduces stress and anxiety
Increase the “feel good” endorphins
Manage a healthy weight
Keep the skeletal system (bones, muscles & joints) healthy
Keep the cardiovascular system (heart & lungs) healthy
Opportunity to engage with family and friends
Learn new skills
Stimulates the brain
Increase confidence & self-esteem

The new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of:

Heart diseaseStrokeHigh blood pressureUnhealthy cholesterol levelsType 2 diabetesMetabolic syndromeColon cancerBreast cancerFallsDepressionRegular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also help with weight loss, when combined with lower calorie intake. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk for many diseases. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.

Regular physical activity can also improve your cardiorespiratory (heart, lungs, and blood vessels) and muscular fitness. For older adults, activity can improve mental function.

Physical activity may also help:

Improve functional health for older adultsReduce waistline sizeLower risk of hip fractureLower risk of lung cancerLower risk of endometrial cancerMaintain weight after weight lossIncrease bone densityImprove sleep quality

The answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Exercise provides many health benefits - from fitness to increased physical and mental energy. In order to prepare yourself for a exercise routine, you need to research which exercise is right for you and how to fit a new exercise ...

e program into your daily schedule.

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.