Physical activity provides fundamental health benefits for adolescents, including improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, maintenance of a healthy body weight, and psychosocial benefits. WHO recommends for adolescents to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily, which may include play, games, sports, but also activity for transportation (such as cycling and walking), or physical education.
Globally, only 1 in 5 adolescents are estimated to meet these guidelines. Prevalence of inactivity is high across all WHO regions, and higher in female adolescents as compared to male adolescents.
To increase activity levels, countries, societies and communities need to create safe and enabling environments and opportunities for physical activity for all adolescents
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have even greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight.
The bottom line is… each person’s body is unique and may have different caloric needs. A healthy lifestyle requires balance, in the foods you eat, in the beverages you consume, in the way you carry out your daily activities, and in the amount of physical activity or exercise you include in your daily routine. While counting calories is not necessary, it may help you in the beginning to gain an awareness of your eating habits as you strive to achieve energy balance. The ultimate test of balance is whether or not you are gaining, maintaining, or losing weight.
Importanceof physical activity
Regular physical activity is important for good health, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight.
- Increased physical activity burns more calories coupled with decreased caloric intake makes you lose weight.
- Most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake. However, evidence shows the only way to maintain weight loss is to be engaged in regular physical activity.
- Most importantly, physical activity reduces risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes beyond that produced by weight reduction alone.
Physical activity also helps to :
- Maintain weight.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer.
- Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability.
- Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls.
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What do moderate and vigorous – intensity mean?
Moderate: While performing the physical activity, if your breathing and heart rate is noticeably faster but you can still carry on a conversation — it’s probably moderately intense.
- Walking briskly (a 15-minute mile).
- Light yard work (raking/bagging leaves or using a lawn mower).
- Light snow shoveling.
- Actively playing with children.
- Biking at a casual pace.
Vigorous: Your heart rate is increased substantially and you are breathing too hard and fast to have a conversation, it’s probably vigorously intense. Examples include:
- Swimming laps.
- Rollerblading/inline skating at a brisk pace.
- Cross-country skiing.
- Most competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer).
- Jumping rope.
How many calories are used in typical activities?
The following table shows calories used in common physical activities at both moderate and vigorous levels.
Getting Started with Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight
any precautions to take before becoming more active?
People with chronic diseases, such as a heart condition, arthritis, diabetes, or high blood pressure, should talk to their doctor about what types and amounts of physical activity are appropriate.
- Look for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and to increase active time. For example,
- Set aside specific times for physical activity in your schedule to make it part of your daily or weekly routine.
- Start with activities, locations, and times you enjoy. For example, some people might like walking in their neighbourhood in the mornings; others might prefer an exercise class at a health club after work.
- Try activities with friends or family members to help with motivation and mutual encouragement.
- Start slowly and work your way up to more physically challenging activities. For many people, walking is a particularly good place to begin.
- When necessary, break up your daily activity goal into smaller amounts of time. For example, you could break the 30-minute a day recommendation into three 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions. Just make sure the shorter sessions are at least 10 minutes long.
Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles to Physical Activity
If you’re just getting started, you might face certain obstacles that seem difficult to overcome. A few examples of common obstacles and strategies for overcoming them are shown in the following table.
Get the entire family moving
With the participation in all types of physical activity declining dramatically as a child’s age and grade in school increases, it is important that physical activity be a part of regular family life. Studies have shown than lifestyles learned as children are much more likely to stay with a person into adulthood. If sports and physical activities are a family priority, they will provide children and parents with a strong foundation for a lifetime of health.
Benefits to the body
- Builds and maintains healthy bones, joints and muscles
- Controls weight and body fat
- Improves appearance
- Increases muscle strength, endurance and flexibility
- Improves ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
- Reduce risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease later in life
- Builds and improves athletic skills
- Increases enthusiasm and optimism
- Organized sports foster team work and friendship
- Boosts self-esteem
- Reduced anxiety, tension and depression