Everyone can experience the health benefits of physical activity – age, abilities, ethnicity, shape, or size do not matter.
The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases. Health benefits start immediately after exercising, and even short episodes of physical activity are valuable.
During our leisure time, we are often sitting: while using a computer or other device, watching TV, or playing video games. Many of our jobs have become more sedentary, with long days sitting at a desk. The way most of us get around involves sitting - in cars or mass transit.
People who sit too much have an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain kinds of cancers, bone diseases (osteoporosis), falls, and increased feelings of depression and anxiety. Sitting for too long and too often can also raise your risk of premature death. The more you sit, the higher your risks.
Being physically active is one of the most important ways to improve your health. The MoveAbout program provided by Sentara Health Plans is designed to assist you in your journey to become more active and stay healthy.
A single bout of moderate-to vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits for your health like:
- Improving your quality of sleep
- Reducing feelings of anxiety and stress
- Reducing blood stress
Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for chronic disease prevention such as:
- Reducing the risks of developing dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and reduces risk of depression
- Lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
- Lowering the risk of eight cancers: bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
- Reducing the risk of weight gain
- Improving bone health
- Reducing risks of falls
- Emerging research suggests physical activity may also help boost immune function.
Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
For substantial health benefits, adults should do:
- at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or
- 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
Overcome common barriers to exercise.
Lack of time
- Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least five 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
- Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, take the stairs, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
- Select activities, such as walking jogging, or stair climbing that you can do based on the time that you have available (e.g., 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes).
- Take advantage of work physical activity facilities and/or programs. Hold walking meetings and conference calls if possible. During phone calls try to stand, stretch, or move and walk around some, if possible.
- Explain your interest in physical activity to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts.
- Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise.
- Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a gym or group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club.
Lack of energy
- Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
- Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
Lack of motivation
- Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
- Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
- Join an exercise group or class.
Fear of injury
- Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
- Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
- Choose activities involving minimum risk.
Lack of skill
- Select activities that don’t require new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
- Take a class to develop new skills.
High costs and lack of facilities
- Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or calisthenics.
- Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (community education programs, park and recreation programs, worksite programs, etc.).
Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, calisthenics, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, etc.)