Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure. Popular ways to be active are through walking, cycling, sports and recreation, and can be done at any level of skill and for enjoyment. Regular and adequate levels of physical activity:
- Improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness.
- Improve bone and functional health.
- Reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and depression.
- Reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures.
- Fundamental to energy balance and weight control.
The term "physical activity" should not be confused with "exercise", which is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness. Beyond exercise, any other physical activity that is done during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work, has a health benefit.
Increasing physical activity is not just an individual issue. It requires a whole of society and Iculturally relevant approach and therefore demands a collective effort across different sectors and disciplines.
Regular physical activity has significant health benefits at all ages. The benefits outweigh potential harm, for example through accidents, and improve many physical and mental health outcomes.
Conversely, physical inactivity (insufficient physical activity) is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCD) and death worldwide. To individuals, the failure to enjoy adequate levels of physical activity increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes by 20–30% and shortens lifespan by 3–5 years. Moreover, physical inactivity burdens society through the hidden and growing cost of medical care and loss of productivity.
The children under 18 years do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily, incorporating activities to strengthen muscle and bone at least 3 times a week. Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, with muscles strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. People with poor mobility should also include physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls 3 or more times per week.