Seven in 10 Americans are not regularly active, even during their leisure time. LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames says most people can enjoy greater health benefits with longer and more vigorous physical activity than they typically do.
To reduce chronic disease risk in adulthood, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home, on most days of the week. Healthy Americans age two years and older should engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being and a healthy body weight.
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
To help manage body weight and prevent gradual body weight gain in adulthood, Reames advises approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
She recommends additional physical activity to sustain weight loss in adulthood – at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while still not exceeding caloric intake.
Physical activity is associated with numerous health benefits, and more participation in various types of leisure-time physical activity is recommended by health experts. Regular physical activity 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; and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
Moderate-intensity physical activity has substantial health benefits, Reames notes. Moderate-intensity activities include housework, child care activities, occupational activity or walking for transportation.
Lack of time is often given for a failure to be physically active. Setting aside 30 to 60 consecutive minutes each day for planned exercise is one way to obtain physical activity. Physical activity may also include three to six 10-minute segments of moderate-intensity activity for a total of 30 to 60 minutes.
Reames says the accumulated total is what is important – both for health and for burning calories. She offers these tips to keep you exercising:
• Choose activities that 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 emphasizes, adding, "Find something you enjoy and get with it."
For additional information about healthy lifestyles, contact the LSU AgCenter Extension agent in your parish.