Exercise is Medicine™, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, which coined the phrase. And, indeed, the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides strong scientific evidence of the health benefits of regular physical activity. Health benefits include developmental improvements in children; prevention of a variety of diseases including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung and stomach; better sleep; enhanced cognitive function; improved physical function; reduced anxiety and depression; and better quality of life.
The PAG includes general recommendations as basic as “sit less and move more” and “any amount of moderate to vigorous activity will yield health benefits,” as well as specific recommendations for the frequency, intensity and duration of aerobic activity (such walking, running, cycling and swimming). For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity (equivalent of brisk walking) or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (equivalent of jogging or running) a week, ideally spread throughout the week. Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities and balance and functional movement activities are also recommended at least two days a week.
The really great news is that just moving, as often as you can, will have wide-ranging health benefits. And there’s evidence that there is no ceiling on the incremental health benefits of doing more physical activity. So let’s get started by making a conscious effort to stand more, walk more, run more… you get the picture. From wherever you are now, move on!