Sure, you've heard that physical activity might help keep the weight off, but are you familiar with the other reasons physical activity is so important? Here's a look at 10 benefits of physical activity and why you should get moving today!
- Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes or Diabetes Complications
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 84 million US adults have a condition called prediabetes, which puts them at risk of type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity helps prevent type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes (type 1 or type 2), you can help control your blood sugar levels by staying active.
- Better Brain Function
Regular physical activity can keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp and delay the decline of these skills as you age.
- More Money in Your Wallet
$117 billion – That's how much our country spends each year in health care costs associated with levels of physical activity that are too low. Not getting enough physical activity can increase your risk of developing a chronic disease, which comes with higher health care costs. Staying active is good for your health and your wallet, too.
- Lower Risk of Some Cancers
Getting the recommended amount of physical activity can lower the risk of many cancers. These include cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach.
- Longer Life
Being physically active can reduce your risk of dying early from leading causes of death such as heart disease and diabetes. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity. People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.
- Better Mood
Getting enough physical activity can reduce your risk of depression and help you sleep better. Regular walking, for example, can improve your mood, and participating in walking groups can help you remain socially connected to your neighbors and friends.
- Stronger Bones and Muscles
It's important to protect your bones, joints, and muscles as you age. Doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activities of at least moderate intensity can slow the loss of bone density. Being physically active can also help with arthritis pain and reduce the risk of hip fracture.
- Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Being regularly active at a moderate intensity level can help lower risk for these diseases. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
- Fewer Sick Days
Physically active people tend to take fewer sick days. Some workplace wellness programs offer a gym, gym membership, or outdoor walking paths. If your workplace doesn't have a wellness program, management may be willing to start one. And you can always add physical activity on your own with walking meetings, physical activity breaks during long meetings, or taking a walk during your lunch break.
- Better Grades in School
For kids, school physical activity programs can improve attention and some measures of academic performance. Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, brain function, and classroom behaviors.
If you are wondering how to add physical activity to your life, see our sample schedule for ideas. Just be sure to pick activities that are enjoyable and match your abilities – and your kids', too. This will help everyone stay in the game!
Also, if you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease or arthritis, talk with your doctor first about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.