Why is physical activity important?
Regular physical activity is important for good health, and it’s especially important if you’re trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight. Physical activity increases the number of calories used for energy. Increasing calories burned through physical activity, combined with decreasing the amount of calories you eat, you create a calorie deficit, which leads to weight loss. Physical activity also helps reduce high blood pressure, arthritis pain, depression, and anxiety. It also reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, several forms of cancer, osteoporosis and falls.
How much physical activity do I need?
When it comes to weight management, people vary greatly in how much physical activity they need. To maintain your weight, work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It’s possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight. To lose weight and keep it off, you will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you’re eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.
What do moderate- and vigorous-intensity mean?
Moderate: While performing the physical activity, if your breathing and heart rate is noticeably faster but you can still carry on a conversation — it’s probably moderately intense. Examples include walking briskly, light yardwork (mowing the lawn), playing with children, or biking at casual pace.
Vigorous: Your heart rate is increased substantially and you are breathing too hard and fast to have a conversation, it’s probably vigorously intense. Examples include jogging, swimming laps, most competitive sports (basketball, soccer, football), or jumping rope.