The Impact of Physical Activity on Health & Well-Being

Historically, the physical demands such as farming, hunting, tool making and household chores were part of our everyday life. These demands are no longer part of our daily activities due to the technological changes from physical to mechanical structure. Research has shown that the changes from manual to the mechanical structure has significantly contributed to the decline in physical activity and increased sedentary lifestyle around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality around the globe causing a total of 6% deaths. Also, it is estimated that physical inactivity causes around 21-25% of breast and colon cancer, 27% of diabetes and 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden.

The benefit of engaging in physical activity (PA)

PA needs to be embedded in the life of every individual and it should be part of everyone’s daily to-do list regardless of age, gender and ability. Participating in regular PA has both physical and mental benefits and it helps reduce or can even prevent many health-related diseases such as

  • Blood pressure

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Colon and breast cancer

  • Overweight/Obesity

  • Depression

  • Increase self-confidence

  • Enhance educational achievement

The benefits of participating in regular PA are countless and beyond the scope of this article but the question is how much PA people need to engage in. The WHO has recommended a general PA guidelines for people according to their age. The PA guidelines indicate that children and young people aged 5-17 years must engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity PA every day. Moderate PA refers to activities that are strenuous enough to raise an individual’s heart rate and where that individual commences sweating. Vigorous PA refers to activities that dramatically increase heart rate and respiration, to such an extent that it would be difficult to carry on a conversation. The minimum 60 minutes of PA for children and young people can include sports, transportation, planned exercise, community activities and etc. in addition, children and young people must participate in vigorous-intensity activities, including those that strengthen muscles and bones at least 3 times per week. For this age group, bone-loading activities can be performed as part of playing games, running, turning or jumping. The PA guidelines for adults aged 18-65 years must engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of moderate to vigorous PA and undertake muscle strengthening activities across the week. Adults aged 18-65, must engage in various activities such as leisure, transportation (i.e. walking or cycling), play games, sport, planned exercise, and etc. adults must participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity PA throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity PA throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activities. To gain an additional benefits adults must enhance their moderate PA intensity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous intensity PA throughout the week. Furthermore, adults must undertake muscle strengthening activities across the week.


People who are not active on a regular basis and would like to become an active every day must begin with a small amount and light PA and increase the duration, frequency, and intensity gradually over time. To lead an active healthy lifestyle, you need to participate in a regular PA every day.


This is a general article/advice based on the knowledge and expertise of the writer. If you have any health condition please seek your doctor’s advice before engaging in any type of PA.


References

Choi, B., Schnall, P. L., Yang, H., Dobson, M., Landsbergis, P., Israel, L., Karasek, R. & Baker, D. (2010). Sedentary work, low physical job demand, and obesity in US workers. American journal of industrial medicine, 53, 1088-1101.

Engbers, L.H., Van Poppel, M. N., Paw, M. J .C. A. & Van Mecheken, W. (2005). Worksite health promotion programs with environmental changes: a systematic review. American journal of preventive medicine, 29, 61-70.

Prasad, A., St. Hillarie, S., Wong, M. M., Peterson, T., & Loftin, J. (2009). Physical activity and depressive symptoms in rural adolescents. North American Journal of Psychology, 11, 173–188.

Salmon J, Booth M, Phongsavan P, Murphy N, Timeprio A (2007). Promoting physical activity participation among children and adolescents. Epidemiology Review: 29: 144–

World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/physical-activity-recommendations-18-64years.pdf {Accessed on the 28 Dec, 2017}.

World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/pa/en/ {Accessed on the 28 Dec, 2017}.


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