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Get Moving...The Benefits Will Last a Lifetime

The benefits of physical activity are numerous and very well documented. Aside from substantially reducing the risk of dying of a heart attack, regular physical activity decreases the risk for stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain forms of cancer. Regular physical activity helps to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints and reduces the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity helps reduce the symptoms of arthritis and degenerative joint disease and reduces the falls among older adults. Regular exercise has even been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. As overwhelming as these benefits are, the sad fact is that less than half American adults do not get enough physical activity to provide health benefits. Less than 25% of adults are not active at all in their leisure time. The good news is, it's never too late to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.

Activities performed at a higher intensity or longer duration generally offer greater health benefits; this however, may not be a realistic goal or starting point for everyone. Healthy benefits can be gained from activity as simple as a brisk 30 minute walk five or more times a week. Life can be busy and hectic but with a little creativity and planning every body can make room for physical activity. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Replace that coffee or cigarette break with a fitness break by talking a brisk walk or doing some stretches at your desk. Play with the kids or the dog. Instead of driving around to find the closest parking spot, park farther away and enjoy the walk. Remember when it comes to physical activity every little bit helps.

To reap the full health benefit of physical activity an exercise plan should address the five components of physical fitness as outlined by the Centers of Disease control. These five components include cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and flexibility. In future columns we will more specifically address these individual components, as well other pertinent topics such as nutrition, weight management and injury prevention. Information that will help you stay Looking Better, Feeling Better, and Playing Better! But in the mean time...Get Moving!

Bill Scibetta, RN, NSCA-CPT
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