Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity. Everyone can experience the health benefits of physical activity – age, abilities, ethnicity, shape, or size do not matter.
Some benefits of physical activity on brain health happen right after a session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Benefits include improved thinking or cognition for children 6 to 13 years of age and reduced short-term feelings of anxiety for adults. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.
Both eating patterns and physical activity routines play a critical role in weight management. You gain weight when you consume more calories through eating and drinking than the amount of calories you burn, including those burned during physical activity.
To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, which could include dancing or yard work. You could achieve the goal of 150 minutes a week with 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
People vary greatly in how much physical activity they need for weight management. You may need to be more active than others to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your eating patterns and reduce the amount of calories you’re eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and healthy eating.
Heart disease and stroke are two leading causes of death in the United States. Getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity can put you at a lower risk for these diseases. You can reduce your risk even further with more physical activity. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
As you age, it’s important to protect your bones, joints, and muscles – they support your body and help you move. Keeping bones, joints, and muscles healthy can help ensure that you’re able to do your daily activities and be physically active.
Muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength. This is important for older adults who experience reduced muscle mass and muscle strength with aging. Slowly increasing the amount of weight and number of repetitions you do as part of muscle strengthening activities will give you even more benefits, no matter your age.
Everyday activities include climbing stairs, grocery shopping, or playing with your grandchildren. Being unable to do everyday activities is called a functional limitation. Physically active middle-aged or older adults have a lower risk of functional limitations than people who are inactive.