“The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development, improves overall health, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Physical Activity Health Benefits Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Active Living
  • Exercise
  • Fitness
  • Health
  • Health Benefits
  • Physical Activity

Definition

What is physical activity?

DotS the definition of physical activity may vary. In Physical Activity: What Is Physical Activity? the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition is:

“WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits”.2

Health Benefits

Is there an association between health benefits and physical activity?

Yes. In More Active People for A Healthier World: The Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018 – 2030 the WHO explain:

“Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer. It also helps prevent hypertension, overweight and obesity and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being. Yet, much of the world is becoming less active”.3

In Physical Activity: Physical Activity Basics – How Much Physical Activity Do You Need? the (United States) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elaborate on:

“The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development, improves overall health, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and can make people feel better, function better, and sleep better. Some health benefits start immediately after activity, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial”.4

In Exercise: Benefits of Exercise: Health Benefits the (United Kingdom) NHS (National Health Service) elaborate on:

Physical Activity Health Benefits“It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • Up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • Up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • A 30% lower risk of early death
  • Up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • Up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • A 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • Up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • Up to a 30% lower risk of dementia”.5

Breast Cancer

Is there an association between breast cancer and physical activity?

In Physical Activity and Cancer: What Is Known About the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Cancer Risk? the (United States) National Cancer Institute elaborate on:

  • “Breast cancer: Many studies have shown that physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women. In a 2016 meta-analysis that included 38 cohort studies, the most physically active women had a 12–21% lower risk of breast cancer than those who were least physically active. Physical activity has been associated with similar reductions in risk of breast cancer among both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Women who increase their physical activity after menopause may also have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who do not”.6

Mood

Is there an association between mood and physical activity?

Yes. In 5 Things You Should Know About Stress: 4. There Are Ways To Manage Stress the (United States) National Institute of Mental Health note:

“Get Regular Exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health”.7

On page 56 in Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition: Chapter 4. Active Adults – Key Guidelines for Adults the (United States) Department of Health and Human Services explain:

“Regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity also reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and improves sleep and quality of life. Even a single episode of physical activity provides temporary improvements in cognitive function and state anxiety”.8

Physical Inactivity

Is there an association between mortality and physical inactivity?

According to the WHO:

“Physical inactivity (insufficient physical activity) is one of the leading risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCD) and death worldwide. To individuals, the failure to enjoy adequate levels of physical activity increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by 20–30% and shortens lifespan by 3–5 years. Moreover, physical inactivity burdens society through the hidden and growing cost of medical care and loss of productivity”.9

Never Too Late To Start

Is it never too late to start physical activity?

Yes. In Physical Activity & Exercise the (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (JH) explain:

“It’s never too late to become more physically active. Beginning or resuming exercise at any age will benefit your health. Activity for 30 minutes on most days of the week will provide you with sustainable health benefits”.10

Health Care Provider

What if I am going to start doing physical activity?

If you are going to start doing physical activity, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this.

In Physical Activity: Getting Started the (United States) MedlinePlus note:

“IMPORTANT NOTE: Talk with your health care provider before starting an exercise program if:

  • You have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or another long-term illness
  • You are obese
  • You have not been very active lately
  • You get chest pains or shortness of breath when you are active”.11

In Fitness: In-Depth – Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity – The Bottom Line on Exercise the (United States) Mayo Clinic caution:

“Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns”.12

In Physical Activity & Exercise: Starting An Exercise Program – Exercise Physiologists the JH caution:

“If you have a medical condition, are overweight, are pregnant, over 40 years of age or have not exercised regularly for a long time, see a health professional for medical advice before increasing your activity. They can refer you to an accredited exercise physiologist who can help you design an activity plan that is safe and helpful to your individual needs”.13

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Physical Activity: Physical Activity Basics – How Much Physical Activity Do You Need? Page Last Reviewed: 21 April 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm Accessed: 27 April 2020
  2. Physical Activity. What Is Physical Activity? 23 February 2018. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity Accessed: 27 April 2020
  3. More Active People for A Healthier World: The Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018 – 2030. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/ncds/prevention/physical-activity/gappa Accessed: 27 April 2020
  4. Physical Activity: Physical Activity Basics – How Much Physical Activity Do You Need? Page Last Reviewed: 21 April 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm Accessed: 27 April 2020
  5. Exercise: Benefits of Exercise: Health Benefits. Page Last Reviewed: 11 June 2018. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/#health-benefits Accessed: 27 April 2020
  6. Physical Activity and Cancer: What Is Known About the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Cancer Risk? Reviewed: 10 February 2020. National Cancer Institute https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet#q2 Accessed: 27 April 2020
  7. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress: 4. There Are Ways To Manage Stress: Get Regular Exercise. National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml Accessed: 27 April 2020
  8. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition: Chapter 4. Active Adults – Key Guidelines for Adults. 2018. Department of Health and Human Services https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=55 Accessed: 27 April 2020
  9. Non Communicable Diseases and Their Risk factors: Physical Activity. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/ncds/prevention/physical-activity/introduction/en/ Accessed: 27 April 2020
  10. Physical Activity & Exercise. Last Updated: 15 January 2020 | Last Revised: 17 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/healthy-living/physical-activity-exercise/ Accessed: 27 April 2020
  11. Physical Activity: Getting Started. Review Date: 13 May 2019. Page Last Updated: 09 April 2020. MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001941.htm Accessed: 27 April 2020
  12. Fitness: In-Depth – Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity – The Bottom Line on Exercise. 11 May 2019. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389 Accessed: 27 April 2020
  13. Physical Activity & Exercise: Starting An Exercise Program – Exercise Physiologists. Last Updated: 15 January 2020 | Last Revised: 17 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/healthy-living/physical-activity-exercise/ Accessed: 27 April 2020
Topic Last Updated: 27 April 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 27 April 2020
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