Regular physical activity has long been regarded as an important component of a healthy lifestyle. The rewarding results touch both the physical and the mental aspects of health.
|Fitness for health|
Recently, this impression has been reinforced by new scientific evidence linking regular physical activity to a wide array of physical and mental health benefits.
Despite this evidence and the public's apparent acceptance of the importance of physical activity, millions of adults remain essentially sedentary.
> If our sedentary society is to change to one that is more physically active, health organizations and educational institutions must communicate to the public the amounts and types of physical activity that are needed to prevent disease and promote health. These organizations and institutions, providers of health services, communities, and individuals must also implement effective strategies that promote the adoption of physically active lifestyles.
A group of experts was brought together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to review the pertinent scientific evidence and to develop a clear, concise "public health message" regarding physical activity. The panel of experts also considered the organizational initiatives that should be implemented to help US adults become more physically active.
The focus of this article series is on physical activity and the health benefits associated with regular, moderate-intensity physical activity. Physical activity has been defined as "any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure."
Moderate physical activity is activity performed at an intensity of 3 to 6 METs (work metabolic rate/resting metabolic rate) -- the equivalent of brisk walking at 3 to 4 mph (5-6 km/h) for most healthy adults.
Physical activity is closely related to, but distinct from, exercise and physical fitness. Exercise is a subset of physical activity defined as "planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness."Physical fitness is "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
This article series builds on existing recommendations, including "Healthy People 2000", the "Guide to Clinical Preventive Services", the ACSM's "Position Stand on the Recommended Quality and Quantity of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness in Healthy Adults," and the American Heart Association's recent "Statement on Exercise." This article is not meant to be a definitive review of the many health aspects of physical activity; a thorough discussion can be found elsewhere.
- Exercise in leisure time: coronary attack and death rates; Morris JN, Clayton DG, Everitt MG, Semmence AM, Burgess EH.
- Physical activity and reduced occurrence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus; Helmrich SP, Ragland DR, Leung RW, Paffenbarger RS.
- Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness; Caspersen C J, Powell KE, Christenson GM.
- Osteoporosis and exercise in women; Marcus R, Drinkwater B, Dalsky G.
- Influence of regular aerobic exercise on psychological health; King AC, Taylor CB, Haskell WL, DeBusk RF.
- Exercise and obesity; Bouchard C, Depres JP, Tremblay A.
- The effects of moderate exercise training on immune response; Nehlsen-Cannarella SL, Niemann DC, Balk-Lamberton AJ.
- A descriptive epidemiology of leisure-time physical activity; Stephens T, Jacobs DR, White CC.
- Prediction of leisure-time exercise behavior; Godin G, Valois P, Shephard R J, Desharnais R.
- Compliance/adherence in health-related exercise; Dishman RK.
- Training effects of long versus short bouts of exercise in healthy subjects; DeBusk RF, Stenestrand U, Sheehan M, Haskell WL.
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