April is National Move More Month, serving as a reminder to keep active to promote overall physical well-being. Created by the American Heart Association, Move More Month also helps raise awareness for cardiovascular diseases, encouraging people to take a proactive approach in boosting heart health.
Keeping Physically Active
Exercise and general physical activity have proven to result in significant health benefits when done regularly. The guidelines pertaining to the amount of physical activity to achieve these benefits are updated as new research is released, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have recently revised their recommendations. The NIH also provides some helpful information on the types of ailments that physical activity can directly help to prevent and/or treat.
Updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Adults should move more and sit less. New evidence that shows a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. All physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks.
- Any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. The first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans stated that only 10-minute bouts of physical activity counted toward meeting the guidelines. The second edition removes this requirement as the evidence has evolved and encouraged Americans to move more frequently throughout the day as they work toward meeting the guidelines. Most benefits are attained with at least 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
- New evidence shows that physical activity has immediate health benefits. For example, physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve the quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.
- Meeting the physical activity guidelines recommendations consistently over time can lead to even more long-term health benefits.
- New evidence shows that physical activity can help manage more health conditions that Americans already have. For example, physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis; reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes; reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression; and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.
Which Physical Activities Benefit My Health?
While almost all physical activities can benefit your health, some activities have a more noticeable impact. Fortunately, many of these activities are not overly strenuous, and you may already do some of them in your day-to-day life.
- Washing and waxing a car for 45–60 minutes
- Washing windows or floors for 45–60 minutes
- Gardening for 30–45 minutes
- Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30–40 minutes
- Pushing a stroller 1.5 miles in 30 minutes
- Raking leaves for 30 minutes
- Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 min/mile)
- Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
- Stairwalking for 15 minutes
Moderate-Intensity Sports Activities
- Playing volleyball for 45–60 minutes
- Playing touch football for 45 minutes
- Walking 1.75 miles in 35 minutes (20 min/mile)
- Basketball (shooting baskets) for 30 minutes
- Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
- Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
- Water aerobics for 30 minutes
- Swimming laps for 20 minutes
- Basketball (playing game) for 15–20 minutes
- Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
- Jumping rope for 15 minutes
- Running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes (10 min/mile)