Why is physical activity so important for health and wellbeing?

woman stretching

There are so many reasons why regular activity boosts your health. Read to learn what those are and how you can incorporate exercise into your day.

We know that staying active is one of the best ways to keep our bodies healthy. But did you know it can also improve your overall well-being and quality of life? 

Here are just a few of the ways physical activity can help you feel better, look better and live better. Because, why not?

It’s a natural mood lifter.

Regular physical activity can relieve stress, anxiety, depression and anger. You know that "feel good sensation" you get after doing something physical? Think of it as a happy pill with no side effects! Most people notice they feel better over time as physical activity becomes a regular part of their lives.

It keeps you physically fit and able.

Without regular activity, your body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function properly. It’s like the old saying: you don’t stop moving from growing old, you grow old from stopping moving. Exercise increases muscle strength, which in turn increases your ability to do other physical activities. 

It helps keep the doctor away.

Stand up when you eat your apple a day! Too much sitting and other sedentary activities can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had an 80% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
 
Being more active can help you:

  • lower your blood pressure 
  • boost your levels of good cholesterol
  • improve blood flow (circulation)
  • keep your weight under control
  • prevent bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis

All of this can add up to fewer medical expenses, interventions and medications later in life!

It can help you live longer.

It’s true, 70 is the new 60… but only if you’re healthy. People who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about seven years longer than those who are not active and are obese. And the important part is that those extra years are generally healthier years! Staying active helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging. So active adults maintain their quality of life and independence longer as they age.

Here are some other benefits you may get with regular physical activity: 

  • Helps you quit smoking and stay tobacco-free.
  • Boosts your energy level so you can get more done.
  • Helps you manage stress and tension.
  • Promotes a positive attitude and outlook.
  • Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
  • Improves your self-image and self-confidence.
  • Provides fun ways to spend time with family, friends and pets.
  • Helps you spend more time outdoors or in your community.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. That’s only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. And three 10-minute brisk walking breaks count toward your goal. 

So, this is easy! As they say, just move. You don’t have to make big life changes to see the benefits. Just start building more activity into your day, one step at a time.

Last reviewed 01/2017.