Physical Activity

Basic Facts

Physical activity helps you to:

  • Stay mentally and physically healthy
  • Prevent falls
  • Keep your ability to do daily tasks

Even short periods of inactivity can lead to loss of muscle and abilities. Avoid staying still for long periods of time and move more. If you are caring for someone, it’s good for them to do as much as they can manage on their own so they can be more active. The benefits of activity generally outweigh the risks in most people with disabilities.

Physical activity and exercise can help you stay fit

Physical activity is any activity that involves moving your body. This includes housework, climbing the stairs, and gardening.

Exercise is a type of physical activity that is planned and focuses on being fit. Examples are swimming, walking, or lifting weights.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Aerobic physical activity can reduce your risk of having a disability. Aerobic activity makes you breathe faster. Benefits may occur despite:

  • Smoking. Smokers who increase their physical activity will experience health benefits, even if they continue to smoke.
  • Not losing weight. Adults benefit from physical activity, even if they do not lose weight.

Regular physical activity on most days of the week improves health through:

  • Promoting mental health, by lowering feelings of depression and anxiety, and helping keep a person’s mind sharp reducing the risk of dementia
  • Increasing physical strength by building healthy bones, muscles and joints, and reducing risk of falls
  • Keeping bones strong by increasing bone density and reducing the risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis through strength training
  • Helping maintain a healthy weight and reducing loss of muscle strength and bone density when dieting
  • Reducing arthritic disability by reducing pain and increasing flexibility
  • Maintaining or improving heart health by helping the heart work more efficiently
  • Improving blood sugar control, which decreases the risk of problems related to diabetes
  • Reducing the risk of getting many diseases, including diabetes, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, breast cancer, colon cancer, cholesterol problems, osteoporosis, and depression
  • Managing the symptoms of many diseases
  • Preserving the ability to do daily tasks like preparing meals
  •  Reducing death rates

Recommended Types and Amounts of Physical Activity

The benefit of physical activity is related to the intensity of exercise and to the level of fitness a person has when they begin exercising. Physical activity ranges from low to high levels. The more intense the activity the more a person can improve their fitness, within limits.

Examples of moderate aerobic physical activity

  • Gardening
  • Wheeling yourself in a wheelchair
  • Walking quickly
  • Using the stairs

Examples of high levels of aerobic activity

  • Jogging
  • Playing tennis
  • Walking uphill


Last Updated November 2022

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