The health benefits of regular physical activity are far-reaching: reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases; lower health care costs; and improved quality of life for people of all ages. Regular exercise provides the opportunity for health benefits for older adults such as a stronger heart, a more positive mental outlook and an increased chance of remaining indefinitely independent—a benefit that will become increasingly important as our population ages in the coming years.
Physical activity need not be very strenuous for an individual to reap significant health benefits. Even small increases in light to moderate activity, equivalent to walking for about 30 minutes a day, will produce measurable benefits among those who are least active.
- According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 2,600 Americans die every day from some form of cardiovascular disease (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/physactivity.htm).
- Regular moderate intensity exercise with a healthy diet may reduce one's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40 to 60 percent (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/physactivity.htm).
- Physical activity can help prevent:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Osteoporosis (thinning bones)
- Mental health problems such as depression
- Physical activity also helps you stay at a healthy weight, reduce stress, sleep better, and feel better overall (http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/50plus/).