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The Importance of Daily Physical Activity

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billtrack_post.jpgWhat's so important about daily physical activity?
Physical activity is any body movement produced by the muscle system. Most of us understand that by moving our big muscle systems (legs, hips, etc.) we burn more calories, which helps us maintain healthy body weights, and builds strong muscle and cardiovascular systems.  

As a wellness coach, I believe daily physical activity is important because it energizes your body, mind and spirit. Blood carries the life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients that your body needs to survive. How does blood get back from your big toe to your heart? The heart can't pump it back, but as you move your muscles squeeze the veins and blood slowly travels back to the heart -- energizing your body, mind and spirit.

What kinds of physical activities should you be doing?
New data from the American College of Sports Medicine suggest that you should be doing moderate intensity physical activity five days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. What's moderate activity? A good example is walking faster than you normally walk. You don't have to complete 30 minutes at a time; you can do them in 10-minute bouts. The ASSM y also have found that five days at 30 minutes will help improve health, but 200-300 minutes is necessary for long-term weight loss.  

If all you do is walk, you aren't doing enough. As you age, you also lose muscle power unless you're doing strength-training activities. You don't need to belong to a fitness club to strength train. You can use bands or even your own body weight a couple of days a week to gain or maintain strength in core muscle systems.  

The last type of physical activity is stretching or flexibility. We're going through a "Yoga, Tai Chi, Massage Revolution" and there's a good reason -- stretching out muscle tension feels good. Stretching your muscles throughout the day helps relieve muscle tension and ensures that the cumulative stress collected and stored in your muscles all day long is dumped. As you age, you not only can lose strength but also can lose stretchability. Many older adults can't do some of the daily tasks and fun activities because they've given up their flexibility. Always do slow stretch-and-hold flexibility activities to keep safe.

Ready to be energized?
If it's been awhile since you've done any exercise, start with a visit to your physician and ensure that he or she is OK with what you've planned. The next, and most important, step: start putting physical activity into your schedule every day and get back the energy you thought was just part of the aging process. Remember, you can choose to "be well."

Related article
Measuring Physical Activity Intensity (CDC)

3 TrackBacks

New data from the American College of Sports Medicine suggest that you should be doing moderate intensity physical activity five days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. What's moderate activity? A good example is walking faster than you normal... Read More

build muscle fast from build muscle fast on March 7, 2010 2:31 PM

Only want to say your article is astounding. The points in your post is simply impressive and I can assume you are an expert in this field. Read More

What a great post. Read More

1 Comment

As a physical therapist it is good to see promotion of physical activity in patients who are receiving cancer treatments. For those patients who are having chemotherapy or recovering from these treatments, even just one daily walk will get the heart rate up and will help to maintain depth of respiration and muscle coordination/balance. Most patients report feeling better from even a 5 minute stroll! Sitting exercises performed continuously are another great alternative and allows for the patient to remain in the room. Two thumbs up!!

Carissa Sullivan, MPT

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