Physical Activity Benefits: Physical Health

New studies seem to emerge every week touting the benefits of exercise yet an overwhelming number of Americans still do not meet the CDC’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Apparently, simply having an expert tell people “exercise is good for you,” is not an effective way of motivating them to be more active. But what if they said “running for one hour can increase your lifespan by seven hours,” or, “walking your dog for 30 minutes can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer,” or even “exercise is better than prescription medicine in preventing death from a stroke.

When we begin to quantify the physical benefits of exercise, it becomes glaringly obvious that physical activity is vital to our health. In order to reap the greatest benefit from physical activity, we should try to incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching into our routines. This doesn’t have to be complex. Moderate aerobic activity can include mowing your lawn, walking to the grocery store, or taking a bike ride around your neighborhood. Adding more of these tasks that elevate your heart -rate greatly reduces your risk of certain cancers and dementia. An often over-looked form of exercise is strength training. But did you know it doesn’t have to include weights? Body-weight exercises such as push-ups, planks, and squats are great ways to strengthen your muscles and your bones. Strengthening your muscles causes your body to utilize more blood sugar, decreasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Adding exercise to your routine can be easy. Start by simply trying to walk more throughout the day. If one 30-minute workout, five days per week doesn’t fit your routine, try breaking it up into three ten minute workouts. Or do two or three longer workouts three days per week. The key to reaping the full benefits of physical activity is consistency so find the routine that is the best fit for you and stick with it!


For more information on the benefits of exercise and suggestions on how to include more activity in your day, check out the links below.


Time – “Q & A: How a Little Exercise Brings Big Benefits”

Time – “The New Science of Exercise”

CNN – “How Much Exercise Do I Really Need?”

New York Times – “Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise”

New York Times – “Exercise Tied to Lower Risk for 13 Types of Cancer”