Physical fitness is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily tasks. There are five components of physical fitness: body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness.
The evidence is clear—physical activity can make you feel better, function better, and sleep better. Even one session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces anxiety, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial. Being physically active also fosters normal growth and development, improves overall health, and can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits that helps:
- Develop strong muscles, bones and joints.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Relieve stress.
- Control blood pressure.
- Improve mental health.
- Increase energy and self-esteem.
- Reduce anxiety and depression.
- Boost mood.
- Improve sleep.
- Condition heart and lungs.
- Improve brain health.
- Build overall strength and endurance.
- Reduce the risk of developing preventable chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease.
Physical activity can even help kids do better in school!
Everyone can experience the health benefits of physical activity – age, abilities, ethnicity, shape, or size do not matter. Learn more about the benefits physical activity improving your overall quality of life.
A sedentary lifestyle is defined as a type of lifestyle where an individual does not receive regular amounts of physical activity. People who do not exercise are sedentary or inactive. Thousands of deaths occur each year due to physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle.
When you are not physically active, you are more at risk for:
- All-causes of death (mortality)
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Many types of cancer
- Low quality of life
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
Click Here to learn more about the health affects of being sedentary and having an inactive lifestyle.
Based on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommend adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. Do muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days/week.
Check out the Move Your Way® Factsheet for Adults for more information.
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, physical ability or current fitness level, moving more and sitting less has tremendous benefits for everyone, including people at increased risk of chronic disease. Here are some additional recommendations for people ages 3 years and older.
Understanding common barriers to physical activity and creating strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life. Check out these tips help overcome barriers to physical activity.
Lack of time
- Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least five 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
- Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, take the stairs, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
- Select activities, such as walking, jogging, or stair climbing that you can do based on the time that you have available (e.g., 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes).
- Take advantage of work physical activity facilities and/or programs. Hold walking meetings and conference calls if possible. During phone calls try to stand, stretch, or move and walk around some, if possible.
- Explain your interest in physical activity to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts.
- Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise.
- Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a gym or group, such as the local fitness center or a hiking club.
Lack of energy
- Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
- Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
Lack of motivation
- Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
- Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
- Join an exercise group or class.
Fear of injury
- Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
- Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
- Choose activities involving minimum risk.
Lack of skill
- Select activities that don’t require new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
- Take a class to develop new skills.
High costs and lack of facilities
- Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or calisthenics.
- Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (community education programs, park and recreation programs, worksite programs, etc.).
- Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, calisthenics, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, etc.)
- To learn more about how to overcome barriers to physical activity, visit CDC’s Tips to Getting Started.
Check out these Additional Resources for Physical Activity.
- Measuring Intensity
- Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
- Perceived Exertion
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- VA MOVE Coach: MOVE!® Coach is a weight management app for Veterans, service members, their families, and others who want to lose weight. This 16-week program guides the participants to achieve success with weight loss and management through education and use of tools in an easy and convenient way. Participants can monitor and receive feedback regarding their progress with weight, diet, and exercise goals.