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Physical Activity

One of the major contributors to overweight and obesity is physical inactivity. In 2008, over 25% of the U.S population reported that they did not do any leisure-time physical activity (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

There is strong evidence that supports physical activity also plays a role in reducing the risk of an early death, prevention of falls, reduced depression, reduced risk of developing breast cancer and colon cancers, and better cognitive function.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, recommends:

  • Adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.
  • Children aged 6 and up should do a minimum of 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity daily.

Physical activities should range from moderate-intensity to vigorous-intensity and include aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities.

Examples of moderate-intensity include:
  • Walking briskly
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
  • Tennis (doubles)/li>
  • Ballroom dancing
  • General gardening/li>
  • Vacuuming/Cleaning the house/li>
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Shoveling snow for at least 15 minutes

To determine if an activity is moderate-intensity, an individual should be able to sing or talk without feeling breathless.


Examples of vigorous-intensity include:
  • Racewalking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)

To determine if an activity is vigorous-intensity, an individual would not be able to sing or talk without feeling breathless.

ALWAYS CONSULT A MEDICAL PROVIDER BEFORE BEGINNING ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVTY REGIMEN.

Additional Resources

Physical Activity Guidelines, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
http://www.health.gov/paguidlines

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity

U.S. Physical Activity Statistics
http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/stats/index.htm

U.S. National Physical Activity Plan
http://www.physicalactivityplan.org/

State-Based Physical Activity Program Directory
http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DNPAProg

Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity
http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/barriers.html

President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS)
http://www.fitness.gov
http://www.presidentschallenge.gov
http://www.adultfitnesstest.org

SmallStep, HHS
http://www.smallstep.gov

HealthierUS.gov
http://www.healthierus.gov

Recreational Trails Program, Federal Highway Administration
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrails/index.htm

Bicycle & Pedestrian Program, Federal Highway Administration
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/index.htm

National Park Service
http://www.nps.gov

KaBoom! It Starts with a Playground
http://kaboom.org
http://kaboom.org/playspacefinder