Healthy habit

Physical activity for health

Published: Sunday 30 April 1995

-- IN CASE you are one of the lazy bums for whom a spot of physical exercise, pushups or jogging is a big pain, then the recent findings and recommendations of the United States based-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine, should be a cause for alarm.

In a special communication adressed to every American, researchers from these institutes, after reviewing all recent physiological, epidemiological and clinical evidence on the relationship between physical activity and health, recommended that an adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week (JAMA, Vol 273 No 5).

Adults who engage in moderate-intensity physical activity (enough to expend approximately 200 calories per day) can expect substantial health benefits. Examples of moderate intensity physical activity include walking briskly (3-4 mph change to kmph), cycling (less than 10 mph), racket sports, table tennis and golf.

Their findings indicate that physically active adults, as contrasted with their sedentary counterparts, tend to develop and maintain higher levels of physical fitness. Research has demonstrated the protective effects of varying strength between physical activity and risk for several chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, non-insulin dependent diabetes, mellitus, colon cancer, anxiety and depression.

The unique aspect of the new recommendations is that it extends the traditional exercise-fitness model to a broader physical activity-health paradigm. The recommendations are distinct because, first, the health benefits of moderate-intensity physical activity are emphasised. Second, its findings suggest that amount of activity is more important than the specific manner in which the activity is performed.

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