Physical Activity and Health

A report on Physical activity and health from the US Surgeon General

I was recently looking through the CDC web site (doesn’t everyone?) and came across this report. It has bullet points for key messages, facts, and benefits of physical activity. There is also a section about what communities can do, but I’ll not get into that this time. We’ll save it for a later posting. The information in the report was geared for adults, but perhaps there are some similarities that can be drawn regarding youths as well. Here are some highlights with commentary:

Key Messages:
Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits. People need to realize and embrace this. I’ve spoken with several people who, when asked why they don’t like to exercise, say things like, “there’s NO WAY I could run a 5k/10k/around a track,” or “I don’t want to get all muscle-y,” or “I don’t like to sweat.” None of these things are requirements. Just increase movement!

Previously sedentary people who begin physical activity programs should start with short sessions (5-10 minutes) of activity and gradually build up to the desired level of activity. See that? Right there. FIVE to TEN minutes. NOT 45 minute x-fit WODS, hill repeats, 20 minute AMRAP sessions, or even 50 burpees. Start with 5-10 minutes. Trust me, you’ll be happier.

Men over age 40 (that’s me!) and women over age 50 who plan to begin a new program of vigorous activity should consult a physician to be sure they do not have heart disease or other health problems. This is sound advice. Why? Well, most of us (the dudes, anyway), aren’t in the habit of seeing a physician on a regular basis. Do it. I try to schedule mine during the week of my birthday, which helps me keep track of when it is. Just think, someday I’ll get a colonoscopy as a gift!

More than 60 percent of U.S. adults do not engage in the recommended amount of activity. Is that you? Presently this is me. But it won’t be me for much longer!

Approximately 25 percent of U.S. adults are not active at all. Wait, what? So let’s do the math. 60 + 25 = 85. WOW. Approximately 85 percent of U.S. adults make up this combined category. That means (hang on a sec…. 100-85=15…) ONLY 15% of us get the recommended amount of physical activity. Staggering.

Social support from family and friends has been consistently and positively related to regular physical activity. Well, duh. I’m getting back into holding myself accountable on MyFitnessPal. Look me up! BigZigFitness. What are some ways that YOU stay accountable?

Benefits of Physical Activity:
Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints. Get that blood flowing around your body to deliver nutrients to your cells. They’ll love you for it!

Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression while fostering improvements in mood and feelings of well-being. Your body releases chemicals called endorphins (“the feel good chemical”) that interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Oh. Wait. They also trigger a positive feeling in your body. Yea, that.

Helps control weight, develop lean muscle, and reduce body fat. Yep, all those things. By being more active, you burn more calories. Burn enough, and you’ll create a caloric deficit, which is when weight loss starts to happen. Just be aware of your intake, too, as too much IN will thwart your weight loss efforts.

Have you run into any obstacles regarding you getting the recommended amount of physical activity? What’s that, you ask? What IS the recommended amount? Stay tuned…


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