Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength and ability to function well. Physical activity is proven to improve both mental and physical health. It tackles anxiety, depression and anger. It enhances your immune system and decreases the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Becoming more active can lower your blood pressure by as much as 4 to 9 mm Hg. That's the same reduction in blood pressure delivered by some antihypertensive medications.
Three 10-minute periods of activity are almost as beneficial to your overall fitness as one 30-minute session.
It's also a good idea to spend some time outdoors. Sunlight on your skin helps your body produce vitamin D, which brings many added health benefits.
For each hour of regular exercise you get, you'll gain about two hours of 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 percent
• Reduces risk of stroke by 20 percent in moderately active people and by 27 percent 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
• In older people, helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging and maintains quality of life and independence longer
This content was last reviewed on 03/22/2013.