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Why everyone should pursue healthy physical activity

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You may see more and more information on TV, in magazine and newspapers, and online telling you that it is important to be more physically active. 

Have you ever wondered what all the fuss was about?  These days, our lives are filled with many things that we have to do on a daily basis.  Making time to be physically active is not always easy. 

Here are a few reasons that may help you understand why being physically active really is important!

Physical activity can help prevent many chronic diseases.  Did you know that there are more than 40 different chronic diseases helped by physical activity to treat and possibly prevent?  Many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, lower back pain and high blood pressure can be positively influenced by physical activity. The best part is that the physical activity only needs to be 30 minutes a day and it can be done in 10 minute sessions.  A quick way to get exercise is to take 3 ten minute breaks during your day.  Walk 5 minutes in one direction and turn around and walk back.

Of course, by being physically active for longer than 30 minutes and moving at a faster than  regular pace, you will be able to get even more benefits!   Adding intensity will help the heart get stronger and muscles get leaner.  This can lead to long term weight management and long term disease prevention.  

It is very important to talk to your healthcare provider about how active you are and what activities you are doing.  If you are not sure what you should be doing, ask your healthcare professional.  Many times, healthcare professionals are willing to give you suggestions for physical activities or refer you to someone who can.

Do not be afraid to try something new.  There are so many types of physical activity available.  If you do not like to walk, then taking 10 walking breaks is going to be hard to do.  If you love to dance try Zumba or ballroom dancing.  If you like sports see if there is a league somewhere nearby for you to join.   If you like to be out in nature, try a new hiking trail.  If it is raining and you are stuck indoors, try an exercise DVD.  There will be some physical activity that you will enjoy, as long as you are open to trying new things.

Any physical activity that you do will provide benefits for healthier and more independent living.

 The more physically active you are, the longer you can expect to live, the less stressed you will be and overall, you will feel good!

References:  Livestrong.com Why is aerobic and muscular fitness important? 2010 accessed at http://www.livestrong,com/article/173920-why-is-aerobic-muscular-fitness...
ACSM’s Guide to Exercise Testing and Prescription, American College of Sports Medicine; 2010.

Source:  Nicole Peritore, HEEL Program Coordinator, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.