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Benefits of Physical Activity

Key Message

Regular participation in physical activity during childhood and adolescence:
• Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
• Helps control weight, build lean muscle, and reduce fat.
• Prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure and helps reduce blood pressure in some adolescents with hypertension.
• Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety

Source

U.S. Health Department. (1996). Benefits of Physical Activity. Washington, District of Columbia: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Purpose

Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity has been identified as on of ten of our nation’s leading health indicators in Healthy People 2010 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).
The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health stated that regular physical activity improves health in the following ways:
• Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
• Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.
• Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
• Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
• Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
• Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
• Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
• Helps control weight.
• Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
• Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
• Promotes psychological well-being.
(US Department of Health and Human Services, 1996)

Regular physical activity among children and adolescents with chronic disease risk factors can:
• Decrease blood pressure in adolescents with borderline hypertension
• Increases aerobic fitness in obese children
• Decrease the degree of overweight among obese children
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997)

Evidence

The Surgeon General’s report (US Department of Health and Human Services, 1996) concluded that regular participation in physical activity during childhood and adolescence:
• Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
• Helps control weight, build lean muscle, and reduce fat.
• Prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure and helps reduce blood pressure in some adolescents with hypertension.
• Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.

Physical activity among adolescents is consistently related to higher levels of self-esteem and self-concept and lower levels of anxiety and stress. Although the relationship between physical activity during youth and the development of osteoporosis later in life is unclear, evidence exists that weight-bearing exercise increases bone mass density among young people (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997).

Additional Information

Link is to the full report: Physical Activity and Health - A Report of the Surgeon General

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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