Reducing Obesity Coalition
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Physical Activity

One of the major contributors to overweight and obesity is physical inactivity. In 2008, over 25% of the U.S population reported that they did not do any leisure-time physical activity (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

There is strong evidence that supports physical activity also plays a role in reducing the risk of an early death, prevention of falls, reduced depression, reduced risk of developing breast cancer and colon cancers, and better cognitive function.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, recommends:

  • Adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.
  • Children aged 6 and up should do a minimum of 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity daily.

Physical activities should range from moderate-intensity to vigorous-intensity and include aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities.

Examples of moderate-intensity include:
  • Walking briskly
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
  • Tennis (doubles)/li>
  • Ballroom dancing
  • General gardening/li>
  • Vacuuming/Cleaning the house/li>
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Shoveling snow for at least 15 minutes

To determine if an activity is moderate-intensity, an individual should be able to sing or talk without feeling breathless.

Examples of vigorous-intensity include:
  • Racewalking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)

To determine if an activity is vigorous-intensity, an individual would not be able to sing or talk without feeling breathless.


Additional Resources

Physical Activity Guidelines, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Physical Activity Statistics

U.S. National Physical Activity Plan

State-Based Physical Activity Program Directory

Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity

President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS)

SmallStep, HHS

Recreational Trails Program, Federal Highway Administration

Bicycle & Pedestrian Program, Federal Highway Administration

National Park Service

KaBoom! It Starts with a Playground