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For some people “exercise” is a dirty word. The fact remains, however, that almost everyone can improve his or her health through regular physical activity. Physical activity has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of developing or dying from heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure. In recent years, research has linked regular physical activity to the prevention of breast cancer, stroke, osteoporosis and many other major health complications. Physical activity will: strengthen bones, build muscles, improve circulation, and help to maintain a healthy weight and good mental health. Despite all of these benefits, approximately 60% of the world’s population fails to achieve the minimum recommended amount of physical activity each day.
To maximize health benefits, current recommendations state that all ages need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. However, if 30 minutes of continuous exercise seems like a little too much all at once, break the activity down into two 15 minute segments or three 10 minute segments. A good tip to remember is, starting an exercise routine that fits your lifestyle, and that you find enjoyable, will greatly enhance your chances of continuing the program and your overall success.
Physical activity is a great way to spend time with friends and family. By including family members in regular physical activity, you are sharing with them a healthy habit and creating new family traditions. By starting slowly and building gradually, you will put yourself on the path to better health and increased mobility.
Some people should consult their physician before starting a new physical activity program. Please see your doctor first if any of following apply to you:
• You have a heart condition or have had a stroke
• You are a woman over 50 or a man over 40
• You have not been physically active in over a year
• You experience chest pain, extreme breathlessness, or dizzy spells
• You are on medication for high blood pressure
• You have bone, joint, muscle or mobility problems that could be made worse by vigorous exercise
Regular physical activity can help you live a longer, happier and healthier life for both yourself and for those you love. So turn off the TV, move away from that computer, grab your sneakers, and get moving!
If you have any questions about starting a physical activity program, contact your physician or the Washington County Health Department at (859) 336-3980.
Rod Mattingly is Community Health Educator for the Washington County Health Department.