Why is physical activity important?

Being physically active is a key element in living a longer, healthier, happier life. It can help relieve stress and can provide an overall feeling of well-being. Physical activity can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lower risk for chronic disease. The benefits of physical activity may include:

    * Improves self-esteem and feelings of well-being

    * Increases fitness level

    * Helps build and maintain bones, muscles, and joints

    * Prevent weight gainBuilds endurance and muscle strength

    * Enhances flexibility and posture

    * Helps manage weight

    * Lowers risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes

    * Helps control blood pressure

    * Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety

Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. Being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating less.

Some types of physical activity are especially beneficial:

    * Aerobic activities – speeds heart rate and breathing and improves heart and lung fitness. Examples are brisk walking, jogging, and swimming.

    * Resistance, strength building, and weight-bearing activities – helps build and maintain bones and muscles by working them against gravity. Examples are carrying a child, lifting weights, and walking. They help to build and maintain muscles and bones.

    * Balance and stretching activities – enhances physical stability and flexibility, which reduces risk of injuries. Examples are gentle stretching, dancing, yoga, martial arts, and t’ai chi.