The World Health Organization defines physical activity as, “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.” In other words, physical activity simply means movement of the body. Examples include walking, stair climbing, gardening or doing house chores.
Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases. As individuals become more sedentary, evidence shows an association with poor health outcomes. This includes weight gain and decreased fitness levels in children and adolescents and an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes in adults.
Research has shown that regular physical activity can
- help in the prevention and management of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension
improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness
- Help in maintaining a healthy body weight
- reduce risk of falls
improve overall mental health and quality of life.
The World Health Organization provides guidelines and recommendations for different age groups and specific populations on how much physical activity is needed for overall benefits. For more information visit; World Health Organization. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010.
For adults between the ages of 18 to 64 with no contraindications to exercise, recommendations include:
- at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week
- At least 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups, at a moderate or greater intensity
limiting the amount of time spent being sedentary and replacing this time with physical activity of any intensity
Physiotherapists along with other healthcare professionals play a crucial role in educating and guiding patients on the importance and benefits of physical activity.
References: The World Health Organization (2020). Physical Activity. Retrieved on November 22, 2020 from