We all know physical activity is important, but many of us struggle to get our daily dose of movement. In fact, according to a recent report by the CDC, as many as 25% of U.S. adults are not active enough to protect their health — in practical terms, that’s around 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week.
The pros of leading an active lifestyle are numerous for both the short and long-term. In fact, regardless of your current habits, physical activity is one of the most effective ways to invest in your health. Here’s why!
How Daily Movement Benefits You in the Short-Term
After a single bout of moderate-to-vigorous exercise (think a brisk walk or jogging), your body starts responding immediately — kind of like a physiological “thank you.”
#1. It Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Just 15 to 30 minutes of physical activity can lower blood pressure for several hours after the fact. That’s basically a quick stroll around the block with Fido!
#2. It Strengthens Your Immune System
Moderate physical activity that lasts 60 minutes (or less!) has been shown to boost immunosurveillance (the circulation of your body’s defense cells to identify and remove pathogens) as well as prevent illnesses such as the common cold and the flu.
#3. It Helps with Brain Cognition and Anxiety
Engaging in daily movement has immediate positive impacts on brain function and can even lessen feelings of anxiety. Brief, moderate-intensity physical activity lasting at least 10 to 20 minutes is enough to boost executive function and recall memory.
#4. It Betters Your Sleep
Early birds get the worm and catch the Zs. Research shows that a morning workout can improve nocturnal sleep quality. Sign us up!
How Daily Movement Benefits You in the Long-Term
Physical activity is by no means a one-and-done deal. All the benefits you reaped in the short-term accumulate to a bountiful harvest in the long-term, which means that, by prioritizing movement, you’re moving — metaphorically and perhaps literally — in the right direction.
#5. It Aids in Healthy Weight Maintenance
#6. It Supports Metabolic Health
According to a 12.5-year study, physical activity in the form of daily tasks and chores (like mowing the grass or gardening) is associated with improved metabolic health and reduced all-cause mortality rates.
#7. It Encourages Fat-Burning and Enhances Body Composition
Research demonstrates that fasted exercise sends signals to your body that stimulates fat-burning. Routine, low-to-moderate-intensity exercise while in a fasted state of at least 12 hours is shown to fat-burning machinery and may contribute to enhanced body composition.
#8. It Contributes to Musculoskeletal Strength
Physical activity is crucial to building healthy muscles and strong bones — especially for women, who may be at higher risk for osteoporosis. Building consistent movement habits now only becomes more important as we get older because our bodies gradually lose the ability to maintain our hard-earned muscle mass and bone density.
#9. It Supports Cardiovascular Health
One of the most well-known benefits of exercise is cardiovascular health — that’s where “cardio” got its namesake, after all! Research dating back to the 1950s compared heart disease rates of active bus conductors with seated bus drivers, and coronary heart disease was 50% less prevalent for bus conductors who spent their day moving, walking about, and climbing stairs.
#10. It Prevents Cancer
Research suggests that up to 1 out of 5 cancer cases could be attributed to lack of sufficient physical activity. And, if you want to be extra cautious, the American Cancer Society recommends exceeding 300 minutes of physical activity per week for optimal cancer prevention.
So What Do I Do Now?
So you know the incredible benefits of being physically active, but how can you incorporate this knowledge into your day-to-day? Getting active doesn’t have to be hard. Shoot for 20 to 30 minutes of movement and you’re golden. Walking, dancing, mowing the lawn, yoga, CrossFit, running after your sock-loving pup — it all counts.
Physical activity — like nutrition and sleep — is a pillar of good health. But, in order to maximize the benefits of daily movement, we encourage you to stack it on top of other healthy habits. Before you know it, your lifestyle will be changed for the better so you can enjoy a longer, happier life.
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