Physical activity: Types, Guidelines and Benefits

Physical activity refers to the body movement that requires the use of energy. Being physically active put you in a healthy condition and reduces the risk of many health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancer. Examples of physical activity include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, footballing and jogging.

Types of physical activity

The following are types of physical activities you can perform to enhance your overall good health:

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is any kind of activity that keeps the heart and lungs in a healthy condition to stop the word aerobic means “evolving energy”. Aerobic exercise enhances heart rate and breathing rate by increasing heartbeat and pumping of oxygenated blood to the muscles that keeps the cardiovascular system in a healthy condition. Aerobic exercise makes you sweat more than usual and increases blood flow throughout the body with the aim of strengthening their heart and lungs

Categories of aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is categorised based on the intensity of the exercise. Intensity of an exercise is how much effort or pressure that the body goes through to perform it.
The types of aerobic exercise include:

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise

This kind of activity requires little effort to carry out and you can still talk while performing it.
It allows you to sweat, makes your heart to beat faster and increases your breathing rate. Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise include:

  • Brisk walking (15 minutes per mile)
  • Bicycling (10mph)
  • Swimming
  • Double tennis playing
  • Dancing
  • Gardening such as trimming, weeding and racking
Vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise

This exercise requires intense and higher amount of pressure and effort to perform.
It makes you to sweat profusely and your heart to beat more faster. You can’t talk during vigorous intensity exercise because of the pressure it exact on your body. Examples include:

  • Running/jogging
  • Play single tennis
  • Dancing aerobics
  • Footballing
  • Basketballing
  • Rope skipping
  • Dancing aerobics
  • Shoveling

Anaerobic exercises

The physical activity involves breaking down of glucose in the body to produce energy in the absence of oxygen. It is a more high intensity exercise that generates energy within a short period of time. An anaerobic exercise helps to strengthen the muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight, increase metabolism, generate energy, burn fat, protect joint and lower the risk of diseases. Examples of anaerobic exercise include:

  • Strengthening exercises such as weight lifting push-ups and sit-ups
  • Rope skipping/jumping rope
  • Sprinting such as fast swimming sprint race
  • High intensity interval training
  • Hill climbings
Strengthening exercise

Strengthening exercise is the physical activity that is directed at increasing the strength of the muscles. It reduces the risk of injury, increases muscular strength, stimulate healthy weight gain, burns calories, increases flexibility of joints, improves bone health and relieves the symptoms of arthritis.
Strengthening exercise stimulates the strength of muscles in the shoulder, chest, legs and abdomen.
The following are the types of muscle strengthening exercises that you should practice to improve the size, strength and endurance of your muscle:

  • Lifting weights
  • Heavy yard work such as hoeing, digging and shoveling
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Yoga
  • Push up, sit up and pull ups
  • Squats
Rope skipping/Jumping rope

This is a high-intensity exercise that involves swinging a rope and jumping over it consistently
To perform jumping rope:

  • Practice continuous jumping without holding the rope
  • Hold the rope with your two hands and place it behind you
  • Swing the rope over your head using your two hands and continue to jump over it

Rope skipping is very fun and it helps to burn a lot of calories and provide other health benefits such as strengthening of muscles in the legs and upper body, stimulation of weight loss, promotion of bone density, prevention joint injuries and balancing of heart rate.

Guidelines for physical activity

These are various principles as well as time factors that guide the activity of exercise. Physical activity is necessary for burning calories and reducing the risk of many health conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. Scheduling these activity is very important for you to achieve fitness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following physical activities guidelines:

  • Children and adolescent aged between 5 and 17 years should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily. They should also engage in strengthening exercise at least 3 times weekly.
  • Adult aged between 18 and 65 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise weekly or combination of both moderate and vigorous intensity activity.
  • Adult above the age of 65 with poor mobility (difficulty in moving freely) should perform physical activity for 3 or more days in a week to enhance balance and prevent falls.

These guidelines stipulate that engaging in physical activity for longer period in a day will provide more health benefits and strengthen the muscles and bones in the body. Infact low physical activity will still provide some health benefit than physical inactivity.

Benefits of physical activity

The following are the benefits of engaging in physical activities:

  • Maintenance of healthy weight gain: obesity is a condition that increases your risk of many health conditions and this can be check or corrected by diets and physical activity. The more calories you consume the more weight you add to your body. Physical activity helps to maintain healthy weight gain and stimulate weight loss by burning calories. Weight loss can be achieved by increasing the intensity of the exercise you perform. A scientific research revealed that including physical activity with dietary control can result in improved weight loss other than what is achieved through dietary modifications alone.
  • It strengthens the muscles and bones: physical activities strenthens the bones and muscles thereby keeping them in a healthy condition. Stretching exercises such as lifting weights, push-ups, pull-ups and squat helps to increase joint flexibility and improve bone density.
  • It reduces the risk of health conditions: engaging in physical activity may reduce the risk of many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease , diabetes and cancer. High level of cholesterol in the body can harden the arteries and prevent the circulation of blood in the body which result into high blood pressure. Engaging in vigorous intensity exercise helps to burn fats(cholesterol) and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Practicing regular exercise can also control sugar level in your blood. A study published in the World Journal of Diabetes revealed that physical activity promotes glycemic control and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. The study further revealed that walking is very effective in preventing type 2 diabetics and risk of cardiovascular disease. Walking promotes insulin sensitivity, glycemic control and reduce the occurrence of unhealthy weight gain (obesity).
  • It generates energy for daily use: physical activity improves heart and lung functions and also stimulate the breakdown of glucose for the release of energy for various daily activities.
  • Physical activity stimulates good mood: exercise relieves stress and controls anxiety and depression. A study showed that an elevated leisure time physical activity is associated with increased health-related quality of life and mood state. The result of physical activity in your appearance can boost self-esteem and make you happy.
  • It promotes sexual health: engaging in more physical activity may help to control erectile dyfunction in men and increase sex drive in women. Obesity is a condition that can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in men and high intensity aerobic exercise can help to correct this condition which at the end improves sexual performance.
  • Physical activity promotes sleep quality: if you have problem with falling asleep or maintaining a good sleep, physical activity may help you to correct this disorder. A study analysing the effect of physical activity on sleep quality revealed that moderate intensity physical activities promote sleep quality than vigorous exercise. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise that help you sleep better include brisk walking, swimming and playing of double tennis.

About Adebayo Taiwo

Adebayo Taiwo hails from Africa. He's a Microbiologist , Health Safety and Environment Specialist and a Health Advisor who is concerned about the well-being and healthy lifestyle of people around the globe. The health of my people is my pride.

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