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Physical Activity

By 09 August 2017
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WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure- including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling and engaging in recreational pursuits. Exercise is a sub-category of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness.

WHO Recommendations of physical activity:

Children and adolescents aged 5 - 17 years

  • Should do at least 60minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily
  • Should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three times a week.
  • Physical activity of more than 60minutes have additional health benefits

Adults aged 18 - 64 years

  • Should do at least 150minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week or at least 75minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week
  • Increasing their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300minutes per week has additional health benefits
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done on 2 or more days a week

Adults aged 65 years and above

  • Should do at least 150minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week or at least 75minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week
  • Increasing their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300minutes per week has additional health benefits
  • Those with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls 3 or more days per week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done on 2 or more days a week

Intensity of different forms of physical activity varies between people. All activity should be done in bouts of 10minutes duration in-order to improve cardiorespiratory health.

Examples of activities that require moderate effort include:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball

Examples of activities that require vigorous effort include:

  • jogging or running
  • swimming fast
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • singles tennis
  • football
  • rugby
  • skipping rope
  • hockey
  • aerobics
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:

  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling
  • yoga

Benefits of physical activity

  • Improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Improve bone and functional health
  • Reduce risk of NCDs such as diabetes, various types of cancers, stroke depression, coronary heart disease
  • Reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures
  • Fundamental to energy balance and weight control

INSUFFICIENT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY CAN LEAD TO: • High risk of mortality, adding to the burden of NCDs

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