Benefits of Physical Activity
- 1 Evidence of Benefits of Physical Activity
- 2 Health-Related Components of Physical Fitness
- 3 Skill Related Physical Fitness Components
- 4 Mental Health Related Physical Fitness Components
- 5 Related Physiopedia Pages
- 6 References
Evidence of Benefits of Physical Activity
As long ago as the 1950s, Professor Morris and his colleagues demonstrated that men engaged in work requiring a level of physical activity (e.g. postmen or bus conductors) were less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease than men with sedentary jobs (e.g. bus drivers or clerical workers). Since this time, many studies in different countries and populations have demonstrated the benefits of PA in a wide variety of health conditions, in some cases showing an effect equal to or even greater than medication.
There appears to be a linear relation between physical activity and health status, such that a further increase in physical activity and fitness will lead to additional improvements in health status.
Human beings are built for movement. For much of history, we were hunters and gatherers and our genes have evolved to accommodate the high energy expenditure levels required to be successful and thrive in the environment.
Yet in the 21st century, in many countries of the world people spend large periods of the day sitting down, whether at desks, computers or in transport; one study states "With the evolution of the development of knowledge and progress in automatic technologies, the human society gradually turned into a sedentary population. It is moreover clearly established that physical activity is insufficient in Europe and in the developed countries. The physical activity is certainly beneficial for many reasons, but it is especially the inactivity which is dangerous." .
Health-Related Components of Physical Fitness
- Cardiorespiratory endurance: the ability of the circulatory and respiratory system to supply oxygen during PA.
- Muscular strength: the ability of the muscle to exert force.
- Muscular endurance: the ability of the muscle to perform without fatigue.
- Flexibility: the range of motion present in a joint.
- Body composition: the relative amounts of muscle, bone, fat and other body tissues.
- Improve glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity
- Reduce blood pressure
- Improve autonomic tone
- Decrease blood coagulation
- Improve coronary blood flow
- Enhance lipid lipoprotein profiles (e.g., through reduced triglyceride levels, increased high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol levels and decreased low-density lipoprotein [LDL]-to-HDL ratios)
- Reduce systemic inflammation
- Augment cardiac function
- Enhance endothelial function
Skill Related Physical Fitness Components
- Coordination: the ability to use the senses together with body parts to perform motor tasks accurately
- Balance: the maintenance of equilibrium whilst moving or stationary
- Agility: the ability to change the position of the body in space with speed & accuracy
- Speed: the ability to perform a movement swiftly/within a short period of time
- Reaction time: the time between stimulation and the start of a response/reaction to it
Mental Health Related Physical Fitness Components
Related Physiopedia Pages
The following pages provide more information, evidence and references on the benefits of PA in specific groups of conditions:
- Physical Activity and NCDs
- Physical Activity in Long Term Musculoskeletal Conditions
- Physical Activity and Neurological Conditions
- Physical Activity and Respiratory Conditions
- Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Disease
- Physical Activity in Diabetes
- Physical Activity in Cancer
- Stroke: The Role of Physical Activity
These pages provide more information, evidence and references on the benefits of PA in specific population groups:
- Physical Activity in Young People
- Physical Activity in Older Adults
- Physical Activity and Women
- Physical Activity and Men
- Physical Activity in Individuals with a Disability
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