A Prescription for Exercise

Most people know that being active is good for them. It can help relieve stress, promote a healthy weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of developing disease. But millions of Americans still struggle to find the time or motivation to be active, despite these health benefits. However, a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that the number of Americans who exercise regularly is going up.

The study found that doctors are playing an important role in this physical activity surge. In fact, in 2010, 1 in 3 adults who saw a doctor or other health care professional was advised to increase his or her physical activity to maintain or improve health. Just like doctors can prescribe a pill to treat an illness, they can also prescribe physical activity to promote health. This is good news since overweight patients were nearly five times more likely to exercise if their doctors told them to!

The 2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans advise adults to get about 2.5 hours of “moderate-intensity” physical activity each week, while children should aim for about 1 hour each day. (Moderate-intensity activity is defined as a level of effort of 5 or 6 on a scale where 0 is the level of effort of sitting, and 10 is maximal effort.) This might sound like a lot, but remember that your activity doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can spread your exercise throughout the day to accommodate your family’s busy schedule. And also remember that physical activity can come in many forms including:

  • Dancing in your home
  • Walking to the grocery store
  • Playing a pick-up game, or just tossing or kicking the ball around
  • Vacuuming
  • Gardening
  • Climbing the stairs

If you’re concerned about your family’s health, make sure to talk about physical activity at your next check-up with your health care professional. And being active is just as important for kids. Talk to your doctor about how much activity your child needs, and discuss ways you can increase physical activity that work with your lifestyle. Share how you and your family have found easy ways to fit activity into your day!

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