Health Benefits and the Importance of Physical Activity
The health benefits of physical activity are overwhelming. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is a major factor in the mortality rate of noncommunicable diseases. People who are physically active are at a 20 – 30% decreased risk of death compared to sedentary people. Here are some of the most common ways that physical activity can benefit your health:
- improving mental health (reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression)
- improving muscular and cardio-respiratory fitness
- improving bone and functional health
- ensuring healthy development and growth in children and adolescents
- enhancing cognitive skills; including thinking, learning, and judgement skills
- reducing risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, heart disease, various types of cancer, and diabetes
- reducing risk of falling; reduced risk of hip and vertebral fractures
- maintaining a healthy body weight; reducing body fat
This shows the true importance of physical activity. The WHO recommends at least 180 minutes a week of moderate activity for most children/adolescents and at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity for most adults. The global percentage of adults who are insufficiently active averages approximately 25%. The percentage of adolescents that are not active enough averages 80%. (1)
A 2020 study from the Archive of Disease in Childhood was conducted on the importance of physical activity in children with common long term/chronic illnesses such as epilepsy, asthma, and diabetes. Physical activity can improve the metabolic profile, bone mineral density, cardio-respiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity while lowering mortality risk in children with type 1 diabetes. Children with asthma that were physically active showed increases in cardiovascular fitness, physical capacity, days without asthma symptoms, and quality of life in childhood asthmatics. Evidence supports that children with epilepsy did not have increased frequency of seizures but would reap the health benefits of being physically active. Being active and participating in sports can also reduce mental health problems beginning to develop in adolescents. (2)
The importance and health benefits of physical activity are unquestionable. These benefits are studied and proven time and time again. Physical activity can help you get into shape, potentially alleviate some of your mental stress, or possibly prevent you from falling victim to a variety of diseases. The only question left is when are you going to get up and get active?
 Physical activity. (2020, November 26). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity. Accessed 2/3/2021.
 Dimitri, P., Joshi, K., Jones, N., & Moving Medicine for Children Working Group (2020). Moving more: physical activity and its positive effects on long term conditions in children and young people. Archives of disease in childhood, 105(11), 1035–1040. https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2019-318017. Accessed 2/3/2021.