Happy Healthy Hump Day – Impact of Physical Activity on Health

Posted: May 24, 2017  

Bobbi here again. We have discussed how nutrition and sleep affect our health. Now let’s add physical activity to the mix. The risk factors seem to be essentially the same across all three.

Even I was shocked by these numbers. More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Similarly, more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth. 

A byproduct, it is common knowledge that physical activity leads to numerous health and psychological benefits. However, the relationship between children’s physical activity and academic achievement continues to be debated. In a comprehensive, quantitative synthesis of 59 studies from 1947 to 2009; results indicated a significant and positive effect of physical activity on children’s achievement and cognitive outcomes, with aerobic exercise having the greatest effect.

Released in 2008, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) is the first-ever publication of national guidelines for physical activity. The Physical Activity objectives reflect the strong state of the science supporting the health benefits of regular physical activity among youth and adults, as identified in the PAG. Regular physical activity includes participation in moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activities and muscle-strengthening activities.

Regular physical activity can improve the health and quality of life of Americans of all ages.

Among adults and older adults, physical activity can lower the risk of:

  • Early death
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Breast and colon cancer
  • Falls
  • Depression

Among children and adolescents, physical activity can:

  • Improve bone health
  • Improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Decrease levels of body fat
  • Reduce symptoms of depression
  • Improve cognitive skills
  • Improve ability to concentrate and pay attention

Knowing this, where should recess fit into our children’s day? What should afterschool programs look like? Are highschool sports enough? Or, is it the function of the parents and family to ensure that our children and adolescents get the exercise and physical activity they need?

As adults, how do we desk jockeys with busy schedules, add more physical activity to our daily lives? I know I should find the time for the gym with aerobic exercise classes of all kinds, but who has the time. Making healthy kids these days takes energy and time.

Some out of the box ideas for doing it during our workday:

  1. –  A team meeting while you walk – ask you project team to join you for a walk while you catch up on project progress.
  2. – Team building activities do not have to be in-office activities, meet at the gym for a basketball or volleyball game. Add a bit of competition if you must and challenge another team from your office.
  3. – Add an ongoing tennis, handball, racquetball or golf ladder to your department schedule.

For people who are inactive, even small increases in physical activity are associated with health benefits.

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