Physical Activity – What You Should Know

Physical activity means moving your body and using your muscles and energy more than you do when resting.
Daily physical activity will benefit your physical, psychological, and social health. It’s also one of the best ways everyone (children, adults, and people with disabilities) can prevent or improve many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and some cancers.
Other important benefits of physical activity include:

  • Strengthened bones and muscles
  • Improved mood and mental health
  • Maintained healthy weight
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved ability to do daily activities
  • Preventing accidental falls
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved learning ability
  • Improved memory
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced aging and menopause symptoms

How Much Physical Activity Should I Do?
There are some simple guidelines to help you determine your physical activity. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines:

  1. Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
  2. Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.

Can I Do Physical Activity If I Already Have a Medical Condition?
If you have an existing chronic disease or condition, you can and should, in most cases, still do physical activity. Check with your physical therapist or physician to be sure that you are healthy enough for exercise, and to find out what physical activities are safe for you.
Physical therapists are experts in physical activity for people of any age and condition, so you can count on your physical therapist to help you get moving safely.
People With Disabilities
Everyone can have fun and benefit from being physically active, including children and adults with disabilities. It is as important for people with disabilities to do physical activity, as it is for nondisabled people. Anyone with a disability, whether physical, mental, or developmental, should be physically active!
For people with disabilities, there are more and more opportunities to be involved in adapted sports. Even simple family games, such as horseshoes, hockey, soccer, or bocce may be modified for children or adults with various physical limitations. Playing “volleyball” with a balloon is a terrific family game that can be done by people at many different disability levels.
How a Physical Therapist Can Help
Physical therapists have extensive training and knowledge of medical conditions and physical activities, so they are experts at creating safe and effective physical activity programs for people with almost any medical condition or physical limitation. Physical therapists also help healthy people learn physical activity to prevent injuries and chronic medical diseases.
Your physical therapist will start by testing your movement and strength, reviewing your past medical history, and discussing your goals and favorite activities.
As your fitness improves, your physical therapist will help you expand and advance your physical activities in a safe and fun way. You will very likely enjoy the physical activity so much that you will look forward to doing it every day!