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14 Amazing Benefits of Physical Activity (FREE PDF): BONUS – What is one benefit of lifelong physical activity?

What is one benefit of lifelong physical activity? When thinking of all the benefits of physical activity, the list is pretty impressive.

Think back to when you were a kid. Being active came naturally. Whether it was playing tag, riding your bike, hiking in the woods, swimming, or jumping on a trampoline, play helped you create many meaningful memories. What are some of the activities you loved as a kid? Could you add more of these activities to your life now? It is not just about the health benefits. It is about having FUN too!

BONUS: What is one benefit of lifelong physical activity?

Let’s start with the bonus answer! As we get older, life can get busy. Being busy can lead to less activity because it seems there are never enough hours in the day.  But, if you maintain lifelong physical activity, you can help prevent weight gain over your life span.

Talk to you doctor before starting a new physical activity.

It is very important to talk to your doctor before starting any new physical activity.  Your provider can give you recommendations for any medical conditions or physical limitations you may have. With this information, you can decide which activities are right for you.

To help with this conversation, you could fill out the PAR-Q+ and take this with you to your next appointment (1).  The PAR-Q+ is a general health questionnaire used to help providers clear you for physical activity.

14 Amazing Benefits of Physical Activity (2)

When you are physically active, check in with yourself before, during, and after exercise.  Because there are so many benefits to physical activity, you can enjoy benefits immediately (same day) and over your lifetime.  

1.      Immediate (Same Day) Benefits of Physical Activity

On the same day you are active, you may notice positive changes.  This is because a single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can help to:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve brain function.

In addition to these immediate benefits, there is moderate to strong evidence linking physical activity to the following lifelong benefits.

2.      Improves Sleep and Increases Energy

“I am sleeping better!” This is often one of the first things noticed when someone increases their activity. When you sleep better, you are more rested and energy levels improve.

3.      Reduces stress

After a nice walk or hike, a group class, or a game, you may notice you are less stressed.  Making time for yourself is so important to relieve the daily grind!

4.      Improves Mood (Reduces Anxiety and Depression)

Have you ever noticed after a fun activity you find yourself smiling and joking around a bit more? This is because physical activity helps to reduce anxiety and depression. We could all benefit from a regular mood boost.

Reduces Anxiety and Depression

5.      Improves brain function

It does not take puzzles or games to improve brain function.  Actually, it is physical activity that helps to improve brain function.  It also helps lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Improves Brain Function

6.      Increases Strength (Muscle and Bone)

Physical activity can help you maintain muscular strength and bone density. This is so important as we age.  Strong bones and muscle tone help us keep our independence and maintain a better quality of life for many years.

Increases Strength

7.      Improves Heart Health and Reduces Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Being active improves our heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease.  In addition, physical activity helps to reduce blood pressure (even after a single bout of activity) and the risk of stroke.  With these benefits you may also require fewer medications. Talk to you doctor before making any medication changes.

Improves Heart Health

8.      Weight Maintenance

BONUS: What is one benefit of lifelong physical activity? Physical activity helps us to maintain a stable weight throughout our lifespan. Being active also helps us lose weight and can prevent weight regain. 

9.      Reduces Risk of Eight Common Cancers

In addition to all the other benefits, this benefit is a big one! Physical activity can reduce your risk of eight common cancers:

  1. colon
  2. breast
  3. bladder
  4. endometrium
  5. esophageal
  6. kidney
  7. lung
  8. stomach

Physical activity can also reduce the chances of cancer returning.

10.      Reduces Risk of Diabetes and Improves Blood Glucose for those with Diabetes

When you are physically active, your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, which can help improve blood glucose.  In addition, your body burns more glucose as fuel during activity.  When you increase your physical activity, blood glucose may be lowered without medication. Be sure to talk with your medical team regarding any medication changes.

11.      Improved labs

You may be concerned about your glucose and lipid labs. Regular physical activity can help improve these labs. 

  1. Lowers 
    • Fasting blood glucose
    • A1c
    • Triglycerides
    • LDL
  2. Raises
    • HDL (protective)
Improved labs

12.      Reduced Pain

Strong muscles support our joints.  Because regular physical activity strengthens muscles, you can keep your joints protected and reduce pain.

Reduced Pain

13.      Fall Prevention

Preserving the strength of our muscles and bone through physical activity improves our balance.  With improved balance, we are less likely to fall.

14.      Increases Flexibility and Injury Prevention

Physical activity is linked to improved flexibility. When our muscles are more flexible (think stretchy rubber band), we are less likely to be injured.

Why are you motivated to increase your physical activity?

With so many great benefits to physical activity, the reason to increase our physical activity is very personal. What is your reason for increasing your physical activity level?

  • Your Health
  • Family
  • Children or grandchildren
  • Improve quality of life
  • Feel better

Safety First

Once you begin exercising, check in with yourself regularly.  Immediately stop exercising if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or pressure in
    • your chest,
    • left side of neck,
    • left shoulder or arm
  • Sharp pain in your joints, feet, or bones
  • Racing heart rate
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Cold sweat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle cramps.

Notify your medical team of these symptoms right away.

For Health Care Providers, Exercise Professionals, and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists

These links may help guide your conversations with clients and patients who are considering increasing their physical activity:

Thank you for visiting! For more information about The Dietitian Resource, please visit our website and blog!

References

(1) 2020 PAR-Q+. The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire for Everyone. [Online] 2020. [Cited: May 24, 2022.] http://eparmedx.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/January2020PARQPlus_Image.pdf.

(2) Human, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd edition). Washington, DC: U.S. : Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.

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