Physical activity plays an important role in the health, well-being and quality of human life. People who are physically active live longer, and have healthier lives. People who participate in physical activity are also more productive, and more likely to avoid illness and injury. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, exercise and fitness helps:
- healthy growth and development
- prevent chronic diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease
- make us stronger
- give us energy
- decrease stress
- prolong independence as we get older
Although physical activity affects those of all ages, it does have different benefits for different age groups. For young children it is essential for healthy growth and development. Exercise helps develop cardiovascular fitness, strength and bone density. Establishing positive health habits early in childhood usually lead to healthy lifelong habits.
Exercise and fitness for adults has been shown to reduce the risk of over 25 chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer, colon cancer, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. The Public Health Agency of Canada states “the functional decline between ages of 30 and 70 is due not to aging itself but to an inactive way of life.”
For adults over the age of 65, weight-bearing exercise reduces the rate of bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Regular exercise maintains strength and flexibility, balance and coordination, and can help reduce the risk of falls and improve overall fitness levels.
Image Credit: [Discovery Fit and Health]
Image Credit: [Southern Cross HealthCare Group]
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2011). Benefits of Physical Activity. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/02paap-eng.php