Physical Activity Important All Year Long

Elizabeth S. Reames, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  5/16/2008 9:25:50 PM

News Release Distributed 05/16/08

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames encourages people to celebrate the month and all year long by participating in their favorite physical activities or trying new ones.

“Surveys have shown about 25 percent of American adults report doing little or no regular physical activity at work or during leisure time,” Reames said. “Even worse, scientific studies have shown that seven in 10 Americans were not regularly active during their leisure time.”

Being active has health benefits for all ages, according to experts.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy people two years old and older engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being and healthy body weight,” Reames pointed out. “To reduce chronic disease risk in adulthood, the guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.

“For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.”

To help manage body weight and prevent gradual weight gain in adulthood, approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week – combined with not exceeding caloric intake requirements – is recommended, Reames said.

A further increase in physical activity is recommended to sustain weight loss in adulthood, she added, explaining that means at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.

“Physical activity is associated with numerous health benefits, and increased participation in various types of leisure-time physical activity is recommended by health experts,” Reames said, pointing out that regular physical activity has these health benefits:

–Increases physical fitness.

–Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

–Builds endurance and muscular strength.

–Helps manage weight.

–Lowers risk factors for cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.

–Helps control blood pressure.

–Promotes psychological well-being and self-esteem.

–Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.

“The activity doesn’t have to be high-intensity, since moderate-intensity physical activity has substantial health benefits,” Reames said, explaining that moderate-intensity activities include housework, child care activities, occupational activity or walking for transportation.

“Lack of time often is given as the reason for a failure to be physically active,” Reames said. “But setting aside 30 to 60 consecutive minutes each day for planned exercise is one way to obtain physical activity.

“Physical activity also may include three to six 10-minute segments of moderate-intensity activity for a total of 30 to 60 minutes,” she said. “The accumulated total is what is important – both for health and for burning calories.”

The LSU AgCenter expert offers these tips to keep you exercising:

–Choose activities you enjoy and find invigorating.

–Exercise at your own pace, building intensity gradually.

–Keep up your energy levels by eating healthfully and getting enough sleep.

–Choose activities that are convenient, fit your lifestyle and fit your budget.

–Select exercise opportunities that offer support and interaction, such as walking with friends or aerobics class.

“Don’t let another day pass without gaining the benefits of exercise,” Reames said, adding, “Find something you enjoy and get with it.”

For additional information about healthy lifestyles, contact the LSU AgCenter Extension agent in your parish or visit www.lsuagcenter.com and look in the “food & health” section.

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Contact: Beth Reames at (225) 578-1425 or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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