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Active Living

Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most important things that people of all ages can do to improve their health. Physical activity strengthens bones and muscles, reduces stress and depression, and makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight or to reduce weight if overweight or obese.  Even people who do not lose weight get substantial benefits from regular physical activity, including lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.  Healthy physical activity includes aerobic activity, muscle strengthening activities, and activities to increase balance and flexibility. As described by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, and children and teenagers should engage in at least one hour of activity each day.

Download and print these recommendations: Active Living (PDF – 237 KB)

Recommendations:

  1. Encourage community design and development that supports physical activity.
  2. Promote and strengthen school and early learning policies and programs that increase physical activity.
  3. Facilitate access to safe, accessible, and affordable places for physical activity.
  4. Support workplace policies and programs that increase physical activity.
  5. Assess physical activity levels and provide education, counseling, and referrals.

What Can State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Governments Do? 

  • Design safe neighborhoods that encourage physical activity (e.g., include sidewalks, bike lanes, adequate lighting, multi-use trails, walkways, and parks).
  • Convene partners (e.g., urban planners, architects, engineers, developers, transportation, law enforcement, public health) to consider health impacts when making transportation or land use decisions.
  • Support schools and early learning centers in meeting physical activity guidelines.

What Can Businesses and Employers Do? 

  • Adopt policies and programs that promote walking, bicycling, and use of public transportation (e.g., provide access to fitness equipment and facilities, bicycle racks, walking paths, and changing facilities with showers).
  • Design or redesign communities to promote opportunities for active transportation (e.g., include places for physical activity in building and development plans).
  • Sponsor a new or existing park, playground, or trail, recreation or scholastic program, or beautification or maintenance project.

What Can Health Care Systems, Insurers, and Clinicians Do? 

  • Conduct physical activity assessments, provide counseling, and refer patients to allied health care or health and fitness professionals.
  • Support clinicians in implementing physical activity assessments, counseling, and referrals (e.g., provide training to clinicians, implement clinical reminder systems).

What Can Early Learning Centers, Schools, Colleges, and Universities Do? 

  • Provide daily physical education and recess that focuses on maximizing time physically active.
  • Participate in fitness testing (e.g., the President’s Challenge) and support individualized self improvement plans.
  • Support walk and bike to schools programs (e.g., “Safe Routes to School”) and work with local governments to make decisions about selecting school sites that can promote physical activity.
  • Limit passive screen time.
  • Make physical activity facilities available to the local community.

What Can Community, Non-Profit, and Faith-Based Organizations Do? 

  • Offer low or no-cost physical activity programs (e.g., intramural sports, physical activity clubs).
  • Develop and institute policies and joint use agreements that address liability concerns and encourage shared use of physical activity facilities (e.g., school gymnasiums, community recreation centers).
  • Offer opportunities for physical activity across the lifespan (e.g., aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise classes for seniors).

What Can Individuals and Families Do? 

  • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week (adults) or at least one hour of activity each day (children).
  • Supplement aerobic activities with muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week that involve all major muscle groups.
  • Consider following the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for limiting TV time among children.