The Importance of Physical Activity

by Michael_Koger

Doctors have long known of the benefits that people derive from regular physical activity and exercise programs.

Across the globe, there are many people of all ages who engage in various forms of physical activity. These may include walking, cycling, household chores, gardening, dancing, playing, and sports participation. Vigorous activities such as swimming, running, and movement of heavy loads are other examples [2].

Physical activity and exercise are not synonymous terms. Specifically, exercise is a planned and structured repetitive process which individuals perform in order to maintain or improve physical fitness. Physical activity, on the other hand, is a reference to any body movement which skeletal muscles produce, and that task requires the expenditure of energy [2].

Global Public Health Issue

There are guidelines and recommendations for the types and amounts of physical activity in which one may engage.  Nevertheless, there are health benefits for those who are physically active even if they do not meet the requirements for adequate body movement each week [2].

It must be clear, however, that physical inactivity is a worldwide public health concern as people do not include enough movement in their schedule.  In fact, it is the fourth leading risk factor for death in the world, and there are approximately 3.2 million deaths each year which are the result of inactivity [2].

Worldwide, at least four-fifths of adolescents are not sufficiently active, and a fourth of adults are physically inactive as well [2].

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

The health benefits of regular moderate physical activity include improvement in control of diseases such as diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure.  They will also experience a decline in risk for coronary heart disease and certain cancers such as those of the breast and colon.  Those who engage in physical activity will feel better in general, and their mental and emotional health will improve [1, 2].

It also lessens the likelihood of falls and fractures in elderly people as the sense of balance and awareness of the body are better in individuals who are active than those who are sedentary [2].


Physical inactivity is a public health problem across the globe.  Despite the advantages of modernization, the human body still requires--in some fashion—regular exercise or physical activity.


  1. Quirk, H., Blake, H., Dee, B., and Glazebrook, C.  (2015).  “Having diabetes shouldn’t stop them”:  healthcare professionals’ perceptions of physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes.  BioMed Central Pediatrics, 15, 68.
  2. World Health Organization.  (2015).  Physical activity.  Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  3. The photo shows a group of elderly individuals who are doing Tai Chi.  Reprinted with permission from Centers for Disease Control/Theresa Roebuck, Health Communication Specialist, O.D.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 09/29/2015, Michael_Koger
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CruiseReady on 10/02/2015

I can truly relate to this, having recently discovered how physically demanding scuba diving is for a senior citizen who is at least a little bit out of shape!

blackspanielgallery on 10/01/2015

This is a good piece. You do have a message here.

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