The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Physical inactivity is a serious, nationwide problem. Its scope poses a public health challenge for reducing the national burden of unnecessary illness and premature death.


  • More than sixty percent of adults do not achieve the recommended amount of regular physical activity. In fact, 25 percent of all adults are not physically active at all.
  • Inactivity increases with age and is more common among women than men.
  • Nearly half of young people aged 12-21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis.
  • Female adolescents are much less physically active than male adolescents.


Laborers and members of their families who perform regular physical activity on most days of the week can reduce the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death in the United States. Regular physical activity improveshealth in the following ways:


  • Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
  • Helps control weight, and build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.


People can select activities that they enjoy and that fit into their daily lives. A moderate amount of physical activity is roughly equivalent to physical activity that uses approximately 150 Calories (kcal) of energy per day, or 1,000 Calories per week. Choose from the following list:


  • Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes.
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes.
  • Playing volleyball for 45 minutes.
  • Playing touch football for 30-45 minutes.
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes.
  • Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30-40 minutes.
  • Basketball (shooting baskets) for 30 minutes.
  • Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes.
  • Pushing a stroller 1 1/2 miles in 30 minutes.
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes.
  • Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 min/mile).
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes.
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes.
  • Wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes.
  • Basketball (playing a game) for 15-20 minutes.
  • Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes.
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes.
  • Running 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes (10 min/mile).



To avoid soreness and injury, individuals should start out slowly and gradually build up to the desired amount of activity to give the body time to adjust. People with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, or who are at high risk for these problems should first consult a physician before beginning a new program of physical activity. Also, men over age 40 and women over age 50 who plan to begin a new vigorous physical activity program should consult a physician first to be sure they do not have heart disease or other health problems.

Source: Center for Disease Control