Get up, get busy and
move that body
So goes the beginning of a popular song. After release of the Surgeon General's
Report on Physical Activity last summer, we might want to consider adopting
that song as our national anthem.
The first ever Report on Physical Activity, developed by the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention and the President's Council on Physical
Fitness, has important implications for each of us. If you dislike vigorous
exercise or have found it difficult to stick to a vigorous exercise program
in the past, you'll be pleased with the report's findings. The bottom line
is that you can substantially improve your health and quality of life by
including moderate amounts of physical activity in your daily life. That
means you don't have to go out and train for a marathon to achieve real
health benefits-even gardening counts.
Consider these major conclusions:
- People of all ages, both male and female, benefit from regular physical
- You can obtain significant health benefits by accumulating between 30
and 45 minutes of moderate activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
Brisk walking, raking leaves or doing housework all count toward that 30
- Additional benefits can be gained by stepping up the duration or intensity
of your activity. If you already walk, walk a little faster or a little
longer. Park your car a little further away from your office. If you usually
avoid that hill on your morning walk, swing your arms and tackle it.
- Being physically active on a regular basis will reduce your risk of
premature death in general, and of coronary heart disease, hypertension,
colon cancer and diabetes in particular. Feeling depressed or stressed out?
Physical activity can also improve your mental health by relieving symptoms
of depression and anxiety.
- More than 60 percent of American adults are not physically active on
a regular basis, and 25 percent of all adults are not active at all; if
you fall into either of these categories, now is the time to get physical.
There are many ways to accumulate your 30­p;45 minutes of activity each
day. Try these to get you started:
- You've heard it before: take the steps instead of the elevator. Whether
you're at the office or in the parking garage, at the mall or at the airport,
get in the habit of climbing the stairs.
- Take a quick walk after dinner with your family. Not only is this a
great opportunity to catch up on "family news," you can encourage
your children to enjoy a lifetime of fitness.
- Hide the television remote. Get off the couch and change the channel
"the old way." Better yet...turn off the television and discover
more active ways to spend your time.
- Walk to the mailbox instead of stopping your car at the end of the driveway.
- Rake your leaves instead of using a blower. Use a push mower instead
of a riding mower.
Health benefits from regular moderate physical activity are achievable for
most of us. Do yourself a favor and start today to "get up and move
Colleen Doyle is a registered dietitian and program director for the
Seretean Center for Health Promotion in the Rollins School of Public Health.
Return to March 3, 1997 Contents Page