Physical activity prolongs your optimal health
Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well. And for each hour of regular exercise you get, you'll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy, even if you don't start until middle age. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for as little as 30 minutes a day has the proven health benefits listed above as well as:
- Improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease
- Keeps weight under control
- Helps in the battle to quit smoking
- Improves blood cholesterol levels
- Prevents and manages high blood pressure
- Prevents bone loss
- Boosts energy level
- Helps manage stress
- Releases tension
- Promotes enthusiasm and optimism
- Counters anxiety and depression
- Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
- Improves self-image
- Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
- Provides a way to share an activity with family and friends
- Reduces coronary heart disease in women by 30%-40%
- Reduces risk of stroke by 20% in moderately active people and by 27% in highly active ones
- Establishes good heart-healthy habits in children and counters the conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, poor lifestyle habits, etc.) that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life
- Helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging and maintains quality of life and independence longer for seniors
How much physical activity is recommended?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association:
- To boost your health and reduce the risk for chronic disease: 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week, or vigorous-intensity activity at least three days per week, and strength training at least twice per week.
- To lose weight or maintain weight loss: 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary, five days per week.
How hard should I work?
- Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. Moderate intensity activities are exemplified by brisk walking, dancing, housework, golfing.
- Vigorous-intensity activity is exemplified by jogging, and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.
Try these tips for incorporating exercise into your life:
- Do it in short bouts.
Research shows that moderate-intensity physical activity can be accumulated throughout the day in 10-minute bouts, which can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes straight. This can be useful when trying to fit physical activity into a busy schedule.
- Mix it up.
Combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity can be used to meet the guidelines. For example, you can walk briskly for 30 minutes twice per week and jog at a higher intensity on two other days.
- Set your schedule.
Maybe it’s easier for you to walk during your lunch hour, or perhaps hitting the pavement right after dinner is best for you. The key is to set aside specific days and times for exercise, making it just as much a regular part of your schedule as everything else.
- The gym isn’t a necessity.
A pair of athletic shoes and a little motivation are all you need to live a more active, healthier life. Click here to learn about the current physical activity program at Tulane!
- Make it a family affair.
Take your spouse, your children, or a friend with you during exercise to add some fun to your routine. This is also a good way to encourage your kids to be physically active and get them committed early to a lifetime of health.