Physical Activity

Physical activity is one of the most effective ways we have to safeguard ourselves from developing a number of chronic, degenerative diseases, a major investment in minimizing the risk of developing debilitating conditions … There is no medical treatment in current or prospective use to provide as much guarantee for well-being as a regular program of physical activity does.

The Lancet Medical Journal published a few studies that demonstrate that sedentary lifestyle, so common in our culture, is more deadly than smoking. They also show that about 6-10% of the world’s non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer) are caused by physical inactivity.


Why physical activity is so important?

“Adults should engage in moderate intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes or more on 5 or more days of the week” or “vigorous intensity physical activity 3 or more days per week for 20 or more minutes per occasion”, is the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Sports and Medicine (ACSM).

This means that adults should expend at least 150 calories a day or about 1000 calories a week in physical activities!

The human body is designed for physical activity! For example the structure of the skeleton can give stability and shock retention while staying sufficiently light to allow quick development. The skeletal system is not the only one that benefits from regular physical activity. The cardio-respiratory system which provides the body with efficient means of delivering needed fuels and oxygen while simultaneously removing waste products, can enhance its functional capacity through regular exercise. Moreover, the benefits for the metabolic, endocrine and immune systems are considerable.


What amount of physical activity is enough?

Some physical activity is better than not at all! In light of several recent studies, in order to get basic health advantages adults should perform moderate intensity exercise for no less than 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week, during recreational or leisure time. The 30 minutes practice may be split into two sessions of 15 minutes or three sessions of 10 minutes while the basic health advantages goal may be met with activities  such as yard work, walking or cycling.

There is, however, a minimal level of physical activity and it should be consistently maintained. Being active for less than 2 days per week, using less than 40-50% of the aerobic capacity for less than 10 minutes it won’t be a sufficient boost for developing and maintaining fitness in adults (ACSM, 1998). In any case, if you wish to obtain more wellness, more intense activity will be required.

Physical activity programs must be tailored to meet the needs of each individual. You should choose activities that are fun for you and that you think you would like to continue for some time. For instance, in order to increase physical activity as part of the daily routine, you need to walk rather than drive when possible; climb stairs rather than take the elevator; park farther away from the store, school or home. You should start slowly with modest goals and then enhance them instead of defining too ambitious goals that will make you feel uncomfortable and unworthy…

Simply changing from inactivity or from a sedentary conduct to a moderate physical activity style is the first greatest step towards  improving your health.  Sufficient physical activity is helping  to:

  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease,

  • Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome,

  • Reduce risk of some types of cancer,

  • Strengthen bones and muscles,

  • Improve  weight control,

  • Improve mental health and mood,

  • Improve ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you're an older adult,

  • Increase chances of living longer,

  • Feel better about yourself.


Lack of physical activity is associated with increased risks of:

  • Developing preventable conditions, such as high blood pressure, coronary heart diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer and obesity,

  • Developing anxiety, stress and feelings of depression,

  • Dying prematurely.


If the body is inactive, degeneration side effects may occur. If the muscles are idle they will atrophy getting feeble and out of shape and if you expend fewer calories than you consume you will put on extra fat.